Everyone has had to make important changes in their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses had to stop or reduce operations, families had to find alternative work and childcare arrangements, and even cybercriminals have had to change their strategies for targeting innocent people and businesses.
The first quarter of 2020 saw a staggering 273% increase in large scale data breaches. Of course, this was just the tip of the iceberg with lockdowns only beginning in many parts of the world. The true cost of cybercrime relating to COVID-19 may very well not be known for some time.
Why the Increase in Cybersecurity Incidents?
How does a respiratory virus relate to the actions of hackers? While there is no direct correlation, COVID-19 caused a rapid change in behavior for people and businesses around the world. This created an opportunity for hackers to adapt to a frantically changing world.
One of the main suspected reasons for this increase in cybersecurity incidents is the rapid transition from office work to working from home. Employees packed up their laptops, grabbed any essential supplies, and set up at home to continue working as efficiently as possible. While this reduced the threat of transmitting COVID-19, it increased the threat presented by hackers.
For cybercriminals to operate, they need to find a vulnerability. In the case of phishing scams, this vulnerability is getting someone to react to a malicious email. For ransomware attacks, malicious software has to be downloaded by an unsuspecting user. In the home, unsecured devices like network printers, outdated routers, and any other number of connected devices give hackers the opportunity they need.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given more opportunities for hackers as well as a new fear to use when playing with emotions. Emails promising COVID-19 financial relief, messages about exposure to the virus, and a number of new twists on old tricks have all been used by hackers in recent months.
The Cost to Small Businesses
Of course, there is often a monetary cost when a person or a business is the victim of cybercrime. For small businesses already struggling with the economic realities of a pandemic, additional costs related to cybersecurity incidents could be enough to close the doors forever. Ransomware is a favorite tool for hackers these days and simply encrypts, or locks, all of the files on a device, or even an entire network, until the victim pays the ransom. This cost can be thousands of dollars.
However, beyond the monetary cost, there is a reputational risk when a cybersecurity incident occurs. People are more diligent with their information than ever before. When a business is the victim of a cybersecurity incident, they risk losing existing customers as well as potential future customers. Plus, if data has been stolen, lost, or encrypted then business operations may not be able to continue. This is reputational risk compounding into a monetary risk.
Prevention is the Best Protection
The silver lining in all of this is that most cybersecurity incidents can be avoided with the right prevention and security measures put in place. Hackers need to exploit a vulnerability. Without one, most hackers will simply move along to the next target.
Education is the most important. Employees need to understand how to identify risks and take action to avoid becoming victims. Regular training and education are important so employees can spot phishing emails, ransomware, and other scams before it’s too late.
Managed IT services are another way to help ensure small businesses are protected against cybersecurity threats. These services offer management of devices and software within a business. Ensuring devices are updated, network connections are secured, and ongoing monitoring can be a very effective defense against hackers.
Is Your Business Safe?
Small businesses have become a popular target for cybercriminals. Is your business protected against the latest threats posed by hackers using the COVID-19 pandemic as cover? Contact the cybersecurity experts at Doing Better Business today to assess your security and learn more about how managed IT services can protect your business.