CYBERCRIME SEES BIG INCREASE DURING COVID-19… AND IT’S NOT GOING ANYWHERE

November 30, 2020

Cybercrime has gone up. It’s official.

It’s also not that surprising considering everything that’s going on at the moment.

But what does this actually look like?

To really combat cybercrime in your business, it’s good to know what’s going on and why it’s happening.

Here’s the latest.

WHY HAS CYBERCRIME INCREASED?

The truth is, cybercrime was already on the rise, even before 2020.

As we’ve mentioned before, hackers are getting craftier and technology is getting smarter.

In 2019, the FBI reported $3.5 Billion in losses to victims of cybercrime that year. That was up from $2.7 billion in 2018.

But even despite that trend, there has been a huge spike in 2020. The year of the coronavirus.

Understandably there is a much higher degree of fear, stress and tension amongst the general populace, as a result of the pandemic.

On top of that, people are working from home, without sufficient cybersecurity on their own devices and with less thought going into data security. After all, you’re safe in your own home, right?

This fear and lack of awareness is being played upon by opportunistic cyber criminals who pay no thought to the individual conditions of their victims, simply the money they can make from them.

Victims in an already high state of emotion can be tricked into going along with scams or making irrational decisions, in the hope that it will alleviate their situation.

AN INCREASE IN PHISHING, RANSOMWARE AND MORE.

Not that people are completely unaware. Most people with a computer know about the threat posed by cybercrime.

In the UK, a study by PwC, revealed that 21% of workers have felt more vulnerable to cybercrime since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

That said, there may be some who aren’t fully aware of how big of a threat they face, particularly as many are now working from home. 

So, what’s the danger?

Well, it’s many of the things we’ve talked about in other posts but also some things you may not have thought of.

DIGITAL PAYMENT DANGER

It’s safe to say e-commerce and online shopping has seen a big boost this year due to lockdowns and isolation.

In the US, digital spending reached $82.5 Billion. In May alone! This was up 77% from the same time, the year before.

This increase in spending online has become a target for cybercrime.

Now, the risks attached to digital payments does vary, but they are still prevalent and perhaps in ways you wouldn’t expect.

It’s pretty hard for hackers to reach you at the point of transaction (phew!) but many cyber criminals will aim to access databases of credit and debit card info, that has been saved on shopping sites.

Another area of potential risk is in the area of charitable donations. Some people will receive requests to donate to charities and relief funds to help various groups affected by the pandemic. This could then take you to a page where your details are harvested.

The important thing is to always stop and assess the legitimacy of these sorts of sites. It’s also recommended that you don’t save your card details with online retailers so that they cannot be accessed by hackers.

Plus, it might stop you from making impulse purchases!

PHISHING SCAMS

Phishing always poses a threat, because it’s pretty hard to fight against.

Firewalls and filters are incredibly helpful but at the end of the day it comes down to the decision of the recipient on whether to engage or not.

Unsurprisingly, there’s been a huge spike in cases of phishing scams, often having a Covid-19 theme.

Many impersonate government or health authorities and will ask you to click a link or hand over personal information.

Interpol reported, that in its member countries, of all the potential threats, 59% were phishing scams.

RANSOMWARE

Rather than individuals, the principal targets of ransomware, have been larger organisations.

Often this form of malware will be sent to governing and healthcare bodies, as the senders know this is currently a huge stress point.

By causing enormous inconvenience to these organisations in the wake of a health crisis, the potential to extort enormous amounts of money is high.

As such it’s vital that these organisations, particularly local healthcare trusts and governing bodies, have watertight cybersecurity. This includes educating staff on how best to deal with this issue.

OTHER THREATS

There are of course a number of other threats out there.

These include data harvesting trojans. Trojans are another form of malware that could theoretically run in the background without the users knowledge, all the while harvesting precious data.

Unless of course, they have good antivirus software that can detect this activity.

There’s also been an increase in domains registered with keywords relating to Covid-19. From February to March 2020 there was a 569% growth in malicious registrations of these sorts of domains, all being used for the distribution of malware or phishing scams.

THESE THINGS AREN’T GOING AWAY

Unfortunately, although there’s been a spike related to Covid-19, the threats aren’t going anywhere.

In fact, the next big spike will likely come with the release of vaccines. Criminals will inevitably exploit this important development, to send out related phishing scams.

The reality is that as long as uncertainty amongst the public remains, so called ‘threat actors’ will attempt to take advantage of this.

WE CAN HELP

There are of course things you can do.

Having an effective cyber strategy for your business is more important than ever in 2020 but if you follow the right steps you should get through this difficult time unscathed.

We can help with that. We wrote a blog detailing some of the tools you need to stay safe and secure. Check that out if you haven’t already.

Another essential thing to do is offer sufficient support and training to those who are working from home. Just because they’re not in your building, doesn’t mean that you’re not responsible for the safety of your business which is really in their hands.

We can help to provide that support and direct you towards tools we recommend. Get in touch today for a helping hand.

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