COVID-19: Hackers are combatting another kind of viral threat

Cases of fraud and data theft are on the rise in the pandemic – but an unlikely group of heroes are helping to keep companies safe

COVID-19: Hackers are combatting another kind of viral threat

COVID-19 has thrown the entire world into chaos. Businesses are scrambling to find new revenue streams, while tens of millions of workers are adjusting to working remotely.

With this accelerated pace of digital transformation, security teams are being pushed to the limit.

The results of a recent HackerOne survey found 30% of global security leaders have had to switch priorities during the pandemic from application security to securing the use of work-from-home and collaboration tools.

Because of the pandemic, 64% of respondents believe their organisation is more likely to experience a data breach, and 30% have seen more attacks as a result of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, 30% of those surveyed have seen their security teams reduced, and a quarter have had their budgets slashed.

Read more: COVID-19: Malicious emails are driving a cyber-crime pandemic

With shrinking budgets, streamlined teams, and dwindling resources, security teams are struggling to secure their assets, keep up with threats, and shift security to increase speed and agility.

Against a backdrop of unparalleled obstacles, leaders have gained a new appreciation for hacker-powered security as a nimble, scalable and cost-effective solution.

As many as 30% of global leaders polled have become more open to accepting vulnerability reports from hackers as a result of the challenges posed by COVID-19.

According to a security report from HackerOne, hackers reported 28% more vulnerabilities per month during the global lockdown than immediately before the pandemic took hold.

But the impact of COVID-19 also prompted an incredible amount of support from hackers to help relief efforts across the world.

Read more: Coronavirus contact tracing apps: Ending privacy for individuals?

The community itself has created new initiatives, such as the CTI League, which combats hacks against medical facilities and other frontline responders, and the US Digital Response, which provides experienced technologists who can help governments deliver critical services.

Individual hackers have also raised their hands to help healthcare providers deal with incoming threats.

The dedication and genuine care shown by this community has inspired HackerOne to create Hack for Good, a custom donation profile where hackers on the HackerOne platform can easily donate full or partial amounts of their bounties to community-selected charities.

The first recipient – receiving US$30,000 from generous hackers – was The World Health Organisation (WHO) COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Donations were used to support WHO and their global partners in their pandemic fight.

Read more: How has COVID-19 impacted your company’s digital transformation?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how small and interconnected our world is. Technology is fundamentally global, yet the systems on which we build our digital lives can be upended in seconds.

Around the world, hackers and security researchers are collaborating for the good of the internet. As security becomes synonymous with hacking, the future of business may depend on hackers and the organisations that embrace them.

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