How COVID-19 increased Cybercrime Worldwide
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How COVID-19 increased Cybercrime Worldwide

Life after COVID-19 will certainly emerge as a new reality.  We can all expect that many of those who now work from home will continue to do so. Many employers realize that a physical presence is not necessary for their staff to be productive and for them to achieve success.  As a result, many small businesses have wisely assumed a digital presence. However, along with these changes was the increase of cybercrimes. In this blog, we review how COVID-19 increased cybercrime worldwide and specifically within the health and education sectors.

The Cost of Increased Cybercrimes

In Canada, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported a 50% increase in reported cybercrime incidences for the year 2020 over 2019, amounting to over $100,000 million dollars in losses.

In March of 2020, there was a vulnerability in the United States Department of Health and Human Services website. It was a malicious link appearing as a self-assessment tool. Those who clicked on the link were redirected to a website hosting malware.

Between the months of February and May of 2020, over halfa million video conferencing users globally suffered personal data breaches

The increase in people working remotely has simply provided added incentives to cybercriminals.  Phishing has seen an upsurge. With almost 50% of people falling victim to these types of cons.  Google saw 18 million phishing emails per day related to COVID-19. Hackers go after individuals because one individual can provide a hacker with a portal to more lucrative prey.

London (England) Police said that the equivalent of fifteen million dollars was stolen, in the first half of 2020.

Increased Cybercrime in Public Health

Cybercriminals are nothing if not opportunists.  Many ransomware targets were involved in the study, treatment, and eradication of COVID-19.  With the need for speed to successfully develop, test, produce and administer a vaccine, many of these organizations could not and cannot afford any interruption in the process.  Any downtime could be fatally detrimental to the world population as a whole.  This makes them the ideal targets. The sector is desperate to free their data, even if ransom should not be paid.

Hospitals and research institutes in many European countries including UK, France, and, Spain, have been affected by ransomware. Over ten hospitals in the United States were targets of the Ryuk ransomware. The same group that has attacked Canadian healthcare centers on a number of occasions.

Universities Potentially MostVulnerable

Universities have shown to be particularly vulnerable.  Many institutions of higher learning operate with strict budget protocols.  Their cybersecurity, while extremely important, will also be subject to those same financial restraints.  Further, there are high consequences for universities involved in critical medical research to fall victim to cybercrime. The outcome is extremely costly, if not in dollars, then in lives.  In April 2020, a Canadian university involved in COVID-19 research, and, provincial government health agencies were targeted by COVID-19 related phishing attacks.

Certainly, many Universities have in-house IT departments and staff. However, it's fairly accurate to suggest that most are understaffed, under-equipped, underfunded, and as of late, overwhelmed.

More Ransomware Facts

  • March 2020, Evil ransomware operators leaked data belonging to US biotech firm, 10xGenomics; suppliers of research equipment to laboratories working on COVID-19 treatments, when 10xGenomics refused to pay the ransom. (cyber.gc.ca)

  • Cybercriminals seek out individuals working remotely, especially those who work in areas that they consider potentially profitable. (cyber.gc.ca)

  • The number of previously unseen malware used in hacking has increased by 75% in 2020. (Deloitte)

  • As a result of working remotely, a data breach costs as much as $137,000.  (Deloitte)

Our Thoughts

Wherever you reside, whatever language you speak, everyone involved in this industry shares the same goal. That is to prevent digital disasters. Cybercrime is not going anywhere.  The need to protect your institution and your business will remain.

COVID-19 increased cybercrime as well as the importance of taking preventative cybersecurity measures. It’s not about IF you get hacked it’s about WHEN you get hacked. Take precautions and schedule a free consultation call with Assurance IT. In this consultation, we will work with your team to determine the best solutions for your organization.


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