Redscan, the managed threat detection, incident response and penetration testing specialist, today released an analysis of the most searched security and technology terms during the COVID-19 pandemic.
London, UK, 6th April 2020
The findings demonstrate the technology priorities of UK businesses, the potential security threats they face, and the extent to which many were unprepared for such an event.
Key takeaways, based on Google Trends global search history data, include:
- Coronavirus–related phishing scams are currently more searched for in the UK than those linked to many big brands, including Apple and Amazon. HMRC phishing scams also widely searched for, coinciding with the introduction of unprecedented financial support for employees and businesses most affected.
- Searches for “Business continuity plan” saw a huge spike between 8-21st March 2020, significantly higher than any other time in Google’s history – revealing the extent to which the pandemic has triggered panic amongst businesses.
- Search interest in “remote working”, “collaboration tools and “remote access” reached record highs in March, as organisations sought solutions to facilitate employee home working.
- “VPN” searches also saw a significant spike in March. Since 8th March, VPN is more searched for in the UK than Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, who has also triggered an increased number of searches during the virus pandemic.
- “Antivirus” also saw increased searches in March, but searches for this term over the last 10 years remain on a steady decline.
- Zoom is currently the most searched online collaboration technology, ahead of GoToMeeting, WebEx, Slack, and Microsoft Teams. Despite reported security and privacy concerns (including the rise of “Zoombombing”) all these collaboration related tools generated a significant spike in online search interest during the month.
“Google’s search data tells a clear story of businesses trying to adapt to remote working and related security and technology challenges of greatest concern,” said Mark Nicholls, Redscan CTO. “A spike in business continuity plan searches is hardly a surprise, but it is also troubling to think that so many are Googling the term now. It suggests that many businesses did not already have a continuity plan in place, and now is hardly an ideal time to implement one. But better late than never.
“Ensuring that employees have the tools in place to work from home has been a priority of IT teams but it’s important that organisations are vigilant about the increased security risks and put appropriate controls and processes in place to mitigate them – such as ensuring that cloud platforms are appropriately configured and monitored.
“At this moment, search traffic is so high for COVID-19-related phishing scams that it exceeds search volumes for phishing attacks imitating major brands like Apple. Cybercriminals are treating the pandemic as a unique opportunity to target remote employees, who may be more vulnerable to social engineering away from the protection of an office network. During this difficult time, employee cyber awareness training and proactive network and endpoint monitoring are more important than ever.”
The report is based on data from Google Trends, an online service that can be used to analyse the popularity of Google search queries worldwide. The tool has enabled us to compare interest in different terms over time. Due to the difficulty of analysing searches based on keywords alone, Redscan could ascertain certain trends but not others, owing to spelling differences and word ambiguities. For example, search queries for ‘Artificial Intelligence’ in relation to security are not straightforward, since AI is used across many different industries.
If you believe any aspect of the report is inaccurate, please get in touch and let us know. Search data correct as of 1st April 2020.
Redscan’s original Cyber Security in Search Report was published in September 2019. Click here to download a copy.
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