The current COVID-19 pandemic not only has a significant impact on the global economy, society, culture, and politics, but also on crime. Cybercrime, i.e. criminal acts in the digital space, is increasing during the exceptional situation we have been in over the past few months.
Who is affected by this?
Strictly speaking, anybody can become a victim of cybercrime, no matter whether private individuals, freelancers, small and medium-sized companies, or large corporations.
For the sake of readability, we will use the term company in this text.
In recent years, cybercrime has increased steadily. This is due to various types of attack: phishing emails, viruses, Trojans, CEO fraud, etc. – the manipulation of private individuals, self-employed persons, companies and critical infrastructures such as energy companies or hospitals, has many faces.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, companies that wanted to apply for emergency aid in connection with the COVID 19 pandemic were affected. By falsifying the website of the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Economic Affairs, data of the applicants were to be tapped.
Why is the number of cybercrime cases increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic?
There are several reasons for this.
- Several companies have sent their employees to the home office, where they may not have the same security standards as in the companies offices. In the course of the home office, new forms of communication must be found. More and more companies use tools for remote work, e.g. ZOOM for video conferencing. However, some providers of such conference tools have security gaps and make it possible for criminals to join the video conference. More information about Zoombombing.
- The COVID-19 pandemic also has an impact on the “business” of criminals. Lockdowns and retail closures mean that organized crime cannot function as it did before the pandemic. This includes the payment of protection money, pick pocketing, and burglary. So a reorientation is taking place, away from classic crime and towards cybercrime. As this report shows, in Honduras, it was already established at the end of March that organized crime is turning more towards cybercrime due to a lack of alternatives.
What impact does cybercrime have on businesses?
If companies become victims of cybercrime, this can have various consequences
In the years 2014-2019, the cost of cybercrime has increased by 40%. The financial damage is not only caused by the extortion of money, mostly in the form of crypto-currencies like Bitcoins.
Manipulating day-to-day business, passing on company secrets or stealing confidential data such as customer addresses and credit card information can also generate costs for you and your customers.
Prestige and trust of customers
Companies that have become victims of cybercrime not only suffer acute economic damage. Good IT security is a quality feature for many consumers, but if a company becomes a victim of cybercrime, this damages the reputation of the company. The loss of customers and a damaged reputation can also be a consequence of cybercrime.
If a company that is part of the critical infrastructure of society, such as hospitals, becomes a victim of cybercrime, this can have more than just financial consequences. More and more hospitals, electricity companies, etc. are digitalized like other companies. An attack on this infrastructure can be life-threatening in the worst case.
How can you protect your company against cybercrime?
An important aspect of dealing with cybercrime is the training and sensitization of employees. Inform yourself and your employees about the correct handling of confidential data in the home office, the correct behavior when receiving phishing emails, and enable good IT security for the home office. Click here to find out how you can record and manage your employees’ training with qmBase training management.
Furthermore, company management should be aware of the risk of cybercrime and integrate it into their risk management. Risks that are not recognized and managed in time jeopardize the successful further development of a company.
Risk management is a preventive approach to identify corporate and project risks and to mitigate them through appropriate measures. This is done by reducing either the probability of occurrence or the effects of occurrence. Click here to find out more about risk management and the different forms of risk management. Under this link, you will find our german article on the SWOT analysis, a free tool with which you can analyze your internal company strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and risks.
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If you have any questions regarding the administration of employees, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can also request your free trial access directly and test our software for 14 days.
Jack Meegan-Vickers, 10.04.2020, Episode 3 – COVID and Cybercrime, The Impact: Coronavirus and Organized Crime by Global Initiative
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