During Covid-19 Pandemic, Businesses Should Prepare for Increase in Cyber Crime

Posted on March 13, 2020 - by Darren Gallop - in Building Your InfoSec Program

A global pandemic and troubling economic trends spell trouble ahead for businesses without strong cybersecurity plans in place  

As the coronavirus is spreading, we are recommending to our employees, customers, friends, and family to stay particularly vigilant for scams, phishing, and malicious attacks.

During these current hard times that are quickly coming upon us, scammers have already jumped to take advantage of the fear and anxiety spawning around the coronavirus pandemic. The FBI reported earlier this week that phishing campaigns are imitating the World Health Organization to capitalize on fear and confusion to trick innocent folks from departing with their hard-earned cash. We’ve also received information about hackers imitating financial institutions, airlines, and travel companies.

Working from home may also make many employees feel isolated and more anxious, especially under the circumstances, and then more vulnerable to phishing or social engineering. An entire workforce signing into company networks and using cloud-based software creates new risks that a different kind of virus could hit your company.

This is only the beginning. I highly advise you all to speak to your employees and families and ensure their awareness is heightened online during these uncertain and difficult times. If you get an email or call from a travel company or insurance company, the World Health Organization, etc. do not give them any information. Do not click on those links. Do not open any attachments. If you think there is a potential for the call or email to be legitimate, reach out to the entity via phone or email and let them know about the communication you received. You can also check the company’s website contact page, to see if the phone number or email address is real. If it was, in fact, authentic they will be able to take things from there.

History Shows Cyber Crime Spikes During Economic Downturns

Desperate times lead to desperate measures. A global recession would quickly lead to increased unemployment rates. This would drive poverty rates upward creating desperation and those living from paycheck to paycheck struggling to maintain their quality of life. Some may struggle to feed their families. This desperation can quickly lead to more crime. 

Criminologists observed how this trend played out when the economy tanked in 2008. As more and more people were left in need, their willingness to resort to crime increased. Flash forward to 2020, the criminal revenue-generating options are much more lucrative and considerably less risky than they once were. In 2008, resorting to crime to feed one’s family or make a quick buck generally meant physically stealing assets, money, or selling narcotics. Today there is a more enticing option for those who feel the need to resort to criminal earnings: cybercrime. 

Information and Tools for Criminals are More Widely Accessible Online 

Although cybercrime existed in 2008, it generally required a substantial level of technical ability. Today that is no longer the case. Basic computer skills, a laptop, and an internet connection could get a nefarious hacker a few hours of research away from launching their first ransomware or social engineering attack. With a downloaded Tor browser, the dark web, and some searching, criminals can find a plethora of easy-to-use tools and tips and a community willing to help them get their first hack underway. 

How to Prepare for Increasing Cyberattacks

2020 was already on track to be the biggest year yet for cybercrime. It’s now about to get a lot worse. If your company does not have policies, awareness training, a recent risk assessment, and appropriate cybersecurity tools then now would be a really good time to step up your game.

We have many resources available on our blog and inside the Securicy platform, which are available for free. If you want more information, below are some top links to useful resources on our blog:

  1. Working from Home? Here’s Our Security Tips for Remote Work
  2. Watch Out for Phishing: 6 Best Practices For Email Security
  3. Security Best Practices for Your Windows 10 Computer 
  4. Tips for Creating a Security Awareness Training Program
  5. Why Your Business Needs a Penetration Test 

Reach out to our team to learn about how Securicy’s Advisory Hours, custom-generated security policies, and security awareness training can help you quickly build your cybersecurity program.

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About the author

Darren Gallop is a tech entrepreneur, information security expert, Techstars alumni, board member, and the CEO of Securicy. He co-founded Securicy and led the team to develop a SaaS product that guides businesses through creating, implementing, and managing their information security and privacy compliance program. Gallop previously co-founded Marcato and was CEO there for 10 years, until the successful event management software company was acquired by Patron Technology. He is fluent in English, French, and adept in Spanish. Gallop spends much of his non-work time traveling or engaging in the outdoors. Swimming, fly fishing, canoeing, camping, and surfing (basically in that order). He is from Nova Scotia, Canada.