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Businesses Hit Hard by Cyber Crime

cyber crime

With the global COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns, many businesses quickly pivoted the way they operate and interact with customers. Namely: a greater reliance on the internet and remote working. This has led to an increase in the sophistication and number of cyber security issues for small businesses. Attempted phishing, cyber fraud and cyber security breaches are on the rise, which are serious risks that must be mitigated and protected against.

The United Nations estimated one cyber attack happens every 39 seconds.

Business activities are online more than ever before, as is private and financial information. If data is the new oil, there are many examples showing that a leak can be expensive and messy to clean up.

To protect your business and the information of your customers, there are a few actionable items worth consideration by every business. For a start, having policies and tools around Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), SSL certificates, password managers, encrypted communications and secure data storage options. Educating staff about threats, vulnerabilities and general “digital hygiene” can help reduce the chances of a malicious attack, especially when working beyond the traditional workplace walls.

The rise in employees working from home has its pros and cons. On the positive side, many have found that they have been able to maintain a better work/life balance, remove the commuting time-sink, and more efficiently run meetings online.

On the other hand, businesses must carefully consider the safety of those working from home, physically, psychologically and digitally. Moving to remote working has also increased the risk exposure for many businesses in cyber security areas. Where deals were done face-to-face, they’re now on video screens. The handshake has had to take a backseat for now, replaced with digital signature tools. We all have a greater reliance on email and digital platforms to connect with customers.

One increasingly common issue is ‘email domain spoofing,’ whereby a party with malicious intent masks their email as appearing to come from a legitimate source, then encourages the sharing of passwords, downloading of malicious software, or otherwise looks for backdoor vulnerabilities.

These emails can often appear to have been generated by a legitimate source, even a member of one’s own business, due in part to flaws inherent in some email domain verification systems. Email scams may be targeted or widespread, such as the various scam emails claiming to be from the United Nations during the 2020 Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

According to data from cyber security company Darktrace, in the UK a fifth of malicious emails would normally use some form of spoofing. That rate increased to as high as 60% as the workforce transitioned to remote working during the shutdowns. Forbes reported that, in India, cyber crime attacks “soared 86% in the four weeks roughly between March and April.”

Cyber crime may be committed by lone actors, sophisticated criminal syndicates or even state actors. While protection and education are important, it appears near impossible for any organisation to maintain 100% security against malicious attacks or data breaches, as evidenced by Wikileaks, the Paradise Papers and countless other leaks. Still, organisations must use best practices that can greatly reduce a would-be hacker’s chance of success.

With a physical virus changing our community, businesses must also adjust to the risks of online viruses and the like. Cyber crime insurance has become an invaluable tool for businesses to protect themselves from financial and other risks, a type of cover relevant to pretty much any organisation that connects online.

For more information on cyber security insurance for your organisation, talk with Country Wide Insurance Brokers.

This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses. If you are concerned about a specific cyber security issue you should seek professional advice. This information does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any person or organisation. Please read and consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before you make any decisions about this product. A copy of the relevant PDS is available from us upon request.