How cybercrime is hampering business recovery from COVID-19


Many businesses have struggled through COVID-19 but as things slowly begin to adjust, companies are looking for ways that they can recover – and it seems this recovery is being hampered by a rise in cybercrime.


Remote working has led to more attacks


One of the biggest changes that we have seen over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic is the number of employees working from home. Every endpoint that a remote worker uses to connect to an organisation’s network and systems is a potential entry point that cybercriminals could exploit.


And this isn’t just conjecture – the number of attacks facing businesses has skyrocketed through COVID-19; in a recent survey, 91% of companies said that they had seen an increased number of cyberattacks as a result of employees working from home.


Scammers taking advantage of COVID fears


Cybercriminals evolve their strategies quickly and so perhaps it is no surprise that phishing schemes and other forms of cybercrime that play on fears around COVID-19 were so quick to be developed by scammers.


The problem has become so serious that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has had to put out a statement regarding individuals impersonating WHO staff. There are also examples of business email compromise (BEC) attacks – where hackers gain access to a business email account and use it to send fraudulent emails to others in the company – that tap into confusion or fears around COVID-19.


Making the return to the office harder


As some level of normality returns, businesses are looking into how to get employees back into the office. However, making the return comes with a number of potential challenges.


The Ponemon Institute suggests that the average dwell time – the time between a cyber breach and it being detected by the company – is 206 days, and this figure is likely to have increased as a result of lockdown.


“To maximise returns, cybercriminals will bide their time in order to conduct reconnaissance, avoid detection and strike at the most opportune moment,” says George Glass, Head of Threat Intelligence at Redscan “as employees return to work post-lockdown and connect directly to corporate networks, organisations need to be alert to the possibility that criminals could be lying dormant on employee devices”.


COVID-19 scams disrupting online sales


While many businesses have struggled with real-world sales there have been opportunities for businesses in the form of increased online sales. In fact, in July online sales were up 55% year-on-year.


Specifically, it has been noted that criminals have been taking advantage of the greater number of people using online retailers – for example, the number of Magecart attacks is up 20%.


But this comes with a problem; if businesses are more reliant on their website, they are more vulnerable to cybercrime.


Final thoughts


Businesses are already facing so many challenges attempting to recover from COVID-19, they cannot afford to face setbacks in the form of cybercrime. Cybersecurity must be considered a priority in order to mitigate risk and overcome attacks.


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