Cybercrime has been a pressing problem over the last several years, as hackers have become savvier and begun releasing more aggressive attacks, such as ransomware. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many industry experts have noticed an additional uptick in attacks, including a huge data breach levied against global health organizations by neo-Nazi groups.
Initially, many blamed the increase in attacks on the challenges of securing remote workers, but this hypothesis proved incorrect. No, the current problem originated far outside any individual office and is a common result of social or political unrest.
A Series Of Disturbances
Experts on cybercrime have seen spikes in digital fraud and data breaches countless times before: when things go awry, whether that's in the form of a pandemic like COVID-19, a natural disaster like a hurricane or tsunami, or a conflict like a civil war, cybercrime increases. That's because these attacks are often disguised as links to charitable projects, which then steal information from those who click on the link.
Simply put, bad actors use the human impulse to help others as a way to profit, and the two are so closely linked that after Hurricane Katrina, the federal government created the National Center for Disaster Fraud, an organization that collects information on such scams and attempts to bring perpetrators to justice.
Get Your Guard Up
Though much COVID-19-related cybercrime will target individuals, another significant portion will be focused on businesses, and in most cases, these are two very different types of attacks.
As noted, attacks on individuals are little more than phishing; teaching people the digital literacy skills they need to detect dangerous messages and websites can go a long way toward addressing the problem. When it comes to attacks on businesses, though, defeating cybercrime requires a more aggressive strategy.
One of the most successful defenses against large-scale cybercrime is a complete system overhaul. By working with a cybersecurity consultant, businesses can equip themselves with a customized technical plan designed with their specific safety needs in mind. This is very different from just installing out-of-the box security software – so beware consultants who are marking up basic solutions.
A top consultant will assess your existing security posture, identify your vulnerabilities, and create a system to track your system's security performance to ensure each element is successfully addressing your specific security needs.
Demand Keeps Growing
The benefit of working with cybersecurity consultants is that they can serve many businesses in the short term, but this problem isn't going away, and cybersecurity professionals are outnumbered in the fight against hackers.
That makes it hard for businesses to maintain appropriate defenses in a rapidly changing world. This is why it's critical that companies work closely with their consultants so that they can go on to manage these systems in house. It may require some upskilling on the part of existing IT professionals, but those skills will quickly pay for themselves.
Right now, we're facing two global pandemics: COVID-19 and an extreme number of cybercrime attacks, and the two are closely related. Unless we can properly address the foundational issues – the social unrest and overwhelming medical need emerging from the current healthcare crisis – the attacks will continue. Don't wait until post-pandemic to improve your defenses because it could be too late.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant. Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he's also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. Read Larry Alton's Reports — More Here.
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