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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

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.