How to prevent cybercrime
Organizations once ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic are facing a new set of challenges since the shift to a digital economy has proven to be a hotbed for cybercrime. The potential consequences of lost income, business disruption and damages to a company’s reputation requires state-of-the-art security measures and constant vigilance. Learn how to protect your business by managing risks and making it more difficult for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities in your technology, business operations and staff.
Cyberattacks are on the rise in Canada
In 2020, organizations that were sideswiped by the pandemic needed to adapt and innovate to survive. Cybercriminals, too, were upping their game. A quick transition to remote work brought more businesses online — along with confidential data. Opportunistic hackers used the pandemic to take advantage of small- and medium-sized businesses, sometimes as an entryway to larger companies. In Canada, 30 per cent of organizations observed a spike in cybercrime during the health crisis and since March 2020, nearly 25 per cent of small businesses were targeted by cyberattacks.1 Given the rise of telemedicine, health care became prime real estate for cybercriminals and ended up being one of the hardest-hit industries.2 Overall, those impacted paid the price. Canadians lost $144 million to fraud so far this year, compared to $106 million in 2020.3
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Phishing scams are also on the rise. According to research, 36 per cent of global data breaches so far this year involved phishing, a sharp increase from 22 per cent in 2020.4 It’s common for hackers to obtain valuable data by emailing individuals and requesting information like credit card details, personal login credentials, addresses and phone numbers. In the past, these emails were often laughably amateur. But they are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Hackers will conduct extensive research to tailor their emails with specific and customized details. It’s easy to become a victum. For example, emails requesting information for pandemic-related work policies or available COVID-19 vaccine appointments might seem legitimate. Employees who are working remotely and unable to reach a colleague or supervisor for a second opinion might be quick to hand over sensitive information and not think twice.
The pandemic has also ushered in a new wave of ransomware attacks that can cause major disruption for organizations of any size. A large percentage of the workforce is operating remotely and for employees to connect and share information, company data needs to be stored on the cloud. Accidentally clicking on an untrustworthy link can enable cybercriminals to install a malicious software that corrupts or steal files while demanding payment in return. Or you may be connected to a website that looks identical to a legitimate one you frequently log into so that hackers can gain access to passwords, usernames, or other sensitive data. In 2021, it’s estimated that every 11 seconds an organization will face a ransomware attack, resulting in global damages amounting to US$20 billion.5
Experts say data breaches tend to occur when an organization’s security protocols are outdated. While it’s possible organizations that moved online during the pandemic were not able to thoroughly stress-test their security systems, business leaders need to recognize the savvy nature of cybercriminals and be proactive.