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Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

With so many people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, more cyber criminals are using “brute force” attacks to break the passwords of employees signing into their company networks remotely, according to ESET, a cybersecurity and antivirus protection firm.

How it works: Brute force attacks break into systems by trying out vast numbers of possible passwords.

  • Cyber criminal groups are targeting increasingly ubiquitously used remote login services as a way to circumvent the usual protections to company systems.
  • The criminals then often hold companies’ networks hostage via ransomware.

What they're saying: “Despite the increasing importance of [remote access services], organizations often neglect its settings and protection,” writes ESET.

  • “Employees use easy-to-guess passwords and with no additional layers of authentication or protection. ... Cybercriminals typically brute-force their way into a poorly secured network, elevate their rights to admin level, disable or uninstall security solutions and then run ransomware to encrypt crucial company data.”

Of note: Among ESET’s own users, the most commonly blocked IP addresses associated with these types of attempted intrusions came from the United States, China, Russia, France and Germany.

  • Meanwhile, most victims of these types of attempted intrusions possess IP addresses located in Russia, Germany, Japan, Brazil and Hungary, says ESET.

Go deeper

Updated 58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate will now work through votes on a series of amendments that are expected to last overnight into early Saturday morning.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.