At risk of cyberattacks: COVID-19 activates cybercriminals
The coronavirus lockdown has made us heavily dependent on the internet. With so many activities shifted online, banking including, cyber threat is on the rise.
The growing reliance on the internet has made personal and business users more exposed to cyber threats and has already triggered a wave of COVID-related cyberattacks. Hackers are taking advantage of fear and people's thirst for information. Recent scams have included a fake pandemic map designed to spread malware. Data theft, ransomware attacks, and system overtakes can have extremely harmful consequences for organizations and individuals.
ECB's warning on increased risks
In early March, the European Central Bank issued a note to banks highlighting potential risks arising from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including cyber threats. The ECB called for a review and an update of contingency plans to minimize their negative impact on organizations. The list of potential issues included the capacity of IT infrastructure and IT processes, fraudulent attempts aimed at both clients and employees, as well as the speed and flexibility in implementing contingency measures.
Key sectors are the main target
According to research, last year governments and governmental organizations were attacked most often, followed by industrial companies, healthcare, education and science, and finance. The question that remains is how the coronavirus pandemic will affect this. The media have already reported about increased attacks on hospitals and health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO was also used in phishing attempts targeted at individuals.
What is the cost of cybercrime?
A cyberattack can have devastating effects on both an individual's personal affairs and an organization's financials, operations, and reputation. An industry leader, Cybersecurity Ventures, estimated earlier this year that in 2020 cybercrime will cost USD 6 trillion globally. This is a pre-pandemic estimate; we can only assume the coronavirus may prove this estimate to be low.
"Despite over US $100bn spent on cyber defense every year, we continue to see breaches only accelerating in both velocity and size. Unfortunately, it is times like these when bad actors prey on instability, and prioritize their efforts for economic gain. We therefore generally expect cyber defense related equities to remain relatively resilient for the foreseeable future."
Brad Zelnick, Managing Director | Credit Suisse Software Equity Research
Cybersecurity as an industry poised to grow
With the growing digital transformation, the high volume of data produced and processed, as well as the rapidly growing need for online services and remote access, cyber threats will remain an issue.
The responsibility to counteract cybercrime and foster cybersecurity goes across the board and rests on all parties: end users, service providers, and organizations. Therefore, the need to stay safe and protected online will not ease off after COVID-19 is conquered and the demand for state-of-the-art cybersecurity tools to prevent fraud, data leaks, and stolen information is expected to grow.