5 Ways Cybercriminals Are Taking Advantage of Pandemic Anxiety

While the world follows case counts, hospitalization rates, and ever-changing local guidelines, we follow the effects on cybersecurity. From our viewpoint, cybersecurity is a more significant concern than ever before (as a general statement) due to COVID-19. 

We often see effects on cybersecurity follow national or global economic events. With the greatest crisis since WWII on our hands, the coronavirus pandemic has certainly been no exception. As fast as infection rates are rising, so are malware, cyberattacks, and disinformation. We’ve said it before, and we’ll repeat it: now is the time for your business to pay extra attention to its cybersecurity infrastructure and practices.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid the perfect groundwork for cybercriminals to take advantage of infrastructure weaknesses, remote work changes, reduced staffing, and more. Attackers not only quickly identify their “way in” but also exploit widespread feelings of uncertainty and fear among the general population. To give just one prominent example, the increase in payments — many sent electronically — opens a massive door of opportunity for cybercriminals. Payouts such as stimulus checks, PPP loans, and unemployment checks are at an unprecedented level. 

5 Ways Cybercriminals Are Taking Advantage of Pandemic Anxiety: 

1) Increase in online dependence 

In general, due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and social distancing, people are spending more time online. This increases the opportunities for cybercriminals who have started bombarding websites that people depend on during quarantine. 

2) Increased remote work necessity

Many businesses have sent their employees home to work remotely for the foreseeable future. This often means both unprotected home networks and employees with too much free time visiting risky websites. With so many employees working off-site, employers’ tech security teams struggle to manage the cybersecurity risk of so many unknown networks and unseen employees. 

3) Increased use of email and social media

With an increase in email and social media (there comes that “online dependence” point from #1 again), phishing attacks have rapidly increased as email accounts and social media accounts are targeted. By playing into the general public’s need for information, hackers exploit clickable links to hack into different systems.

4) Increased economic vulnerability/desperation 

With so many third-party websites offering help to apply for your PPP loan, or websites claiming you can apply for unemployment benefits, hackers frequently exploit the economic desperation of a large population of the U.S. By urging people to enter their information or click a link, hackers can download malware and have access to your computer. 

5) Increased demand for accurate information on the pandemic crisis

With a desperate need for information and a solution to the uncertainty in our world, hackers use it to create fake websites and spread misinformation. As people crave answers and more information, the rise in phishing attacks through links, bogus sites, and even counterfeit sales of items such as masks is higher than ever. 

As always, PK Tech is here to support your business. Whether it’s easing your anxiety through a carefully formulated cybersecurity plan for your business, or simply helping you navigate a potentially dangerous link, we are here for you. Contact us anytime.