Oct 16 4 min read
Economic Downturn + Global Pandemic = Cybercrime Gold Rush
How COVID-19 has Impacted Cybercrime
Do you remember what you were doing on January 1st, 2020? Imagine someone telling you everything this year had in store. You would never have believed them. One thing that’s still being understood is the tsunami of global cyberattacks riding on the back of a worldwide pandemic. From cybercriminals targeting COVID-19 vaccine research to producing fake news , there have been many popular forms of cyberattacks this year.
The whole of 2020 has been challenging for all industries, with IT facing unique difficulties. Unfortunately, in a crisis, there are going to be people looking to exploit everyone’s struggles. This has led to a new type of ‘gold’ that is very valuable for cybercriminals. So what is this new gold? And how can you protect your business from the increasing sophistication and veracity of these cyberattacks?
What is the New Gold?
The new gold is something that cybercriminals have always been after. Personal data and your trust. From getting you to divulge everything from bank details to private passwords. What is different now, what makes data and your trust a new goldmine for cybercrime - is COVID-19.
COVID-19 has affected everyone. In the UK, at the height of infection rates, the government implemented a nationwide lockdown to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus. This led to people shopping online for almost everything. From Amazon to supermarket deliveries.
E-commerce has flourished because people have been asked to stay indoors. People have also been searching for information on COVID-19 online.
While this can be positive, it has cultivated an environment where people can be exploited. In 2020, cyberattackers have focused on attacks related to COVID-19 to gain a profit. Like many criminals, these attacks prey on people’s trust and fear.
As people have been working from home, they could be working on systems with fewer protections. They may also be using personal computers with fewer cybersecurity features that are now required. And as searches for COVID-19 updates and shopping online increase, this provides opportunities for cyberattackers to exploit this trend for a profit.
Why is it so Valuable?
The new goldmine for cybercriminals is the ease at which people can be socially engineered and the value of their personal data. One way this can happen is to prey on their fears to coerce them into spending money on items such as face masks and hand sanitiser; or even manipulate people into paying for things they don’t have, such as a NHS COVID-19 test. With more people online due to lockdown, it’s much easier for cybercriminals to exploit users for a profit.
As people work online in different ways, these changes could open gaps for cybercriminals to take advantage of. Think about a link you receive, if you’re working at the office you may be hesitant to click it. But, would you be as cautious opening the same link on your phone? Or whilst your family is distracting you in the background? This has given cybercriminals many opportunities to steal personal information and commit fraud.
To understand further how these attacks can be so valuable, let’s explore some examples.
How is it Being Mined?
- Fake E-Commerce Stores – Cybercriminals could set-up a website selling fake face masks and hand sanitisers. If a site looks legitimate, this could trick people into spending money on items that will never arrive.
- Fake Test & Trace Programs – A phishing email could say you have tested positive for COVID and request bank details to pay for a test.
- Backup Sites – Often, malicious sites will have dormant backups or alternatives in the cloud that manipulate the cloud provider’s resources. This means the scam is extremely hard to prevent.
As time has passed, cyberattackers have adapted their strategies. Here are some ways cybercriminals have reacted to global priorities:
The Change of Mining Activities in Response to Global Priorities?
When the coronavirus was first said to be a global pandemic by the WHO, cybercriminals saw an opportunity to exploit this. Initially, they targeted people searching for information on infection rates from COVID. They were looking to take advantage of people who may already be anxious and worried. People who are easier targets to manipulate.
The most recent opportunity they’ve looked to exploit is people shopping for essential items. These include face masks and sanitiser. When masks became mandatory in retail shops, the demand for them increased, which made scams involving these products easier to profit from.
What could the future target be for cybercrime? If you can predict the curve, you can protect yourself online. One prediction involves scams around tickets for COVID-safe venues. Whether the tickets are for gigs or sports matches, cybercriminals could set up fraudulent sites that allow them to make a profit by exploiting people.
With cyberattacks constantly evolving, how do you protect yourself online?
Fool’s Gold – How to Make Yourself Less Vulnerable
Unfortunately, there is a goldmine that cybercriminals are targeting right now. To be less at risk online, you need to be less vulnerable. But what does this mean? And can you achieve this?
Importance of an IT Security Provider
Cyber criminals will focus on easy opportunities. Being less vulnerable means having better security; which is why it is best to have a proactive IT Security Provider who can cover your cloud security amongst other things. If a protected company is targeted, the Managed Security Provider can detect and respond to a threat. This makes them a much less valuable target for cyberattacks.
Here are some ways that an IT Security Provider can support a business:
- Run best practise assessments – learn why a company or person may be at risk of cyberattacks.
- Consistent security updates – keep your systems up to date and passwords secure.
- Block potentially malicious sites – prevent employees from visiting newly registered domains that are more likely to be scams.
- 24/7 Monitoring – constantly monitor a business’s website for unauthorised alterations to their content.
- Secure your content management system (CMS) – ensure secure passwords and processes are in place across the CMS.
With the latest knowledge and security protections, you can prevent cyberattacks. To find out more about cybersecurity, get in touch with our team today:
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