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Cybercrime rising: does the international wave of cybercrime present silver linings for tech?

Back in April, as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded, we reported an industry-wide increase in phishing activity. As the weeks have passed, cybercriminals continue to expose the weaknesses caused by the pandemic. Not only have there been attacks on individuals and big business – but also on healthcare and medical research facilities. Cybercrime is plaguing global enterprise.

A recent Freedom of Information request response from the UK’s HM Revenue & Customs revealed that the number of phishing emails reported in March was 42,575. This marks a 74% rise since January, with a rise in fraudsters sending communications purporting to be from the UK tax authority.

The issue isn’t limited to the UK. At the beginning of this week, Japan’s Honda suffered a cyber attack which forced the company’s entire global workforce offline. Global production was halted, and remains paused in some jurisdictions, as the company scrambles to close the gaps and assess the damage.

In response to these increasing attacks, INTERPOL has launched a cyber awareness campaign with the hope of educating businesses, hospitals and essential services about the increasing threats from cybercrime – and how to manage them. As INTERPOL’s Director of Cybercrime, Craig Jones, highlighted:

“Cybercriminals are diversifying attack vectors to launch cyberattacks exploiting the Covid-19 outbreak. These cyberthreats are causing serious harm to people and organizations, which exacerbate an already dire situation in the physical world. Now is the time when we all must come together to stop them.”

Similarly, EUROPOL have published ‘Pandemic profiteering how criminals exploit the Covid-19 crisis’, which explores how factors surrounding Covid-19 – including increased reliance on digital solutions as well as increased anxiety and fear – has created a “breeding ground for cybercriminals”.

Silver linings

Cybercrime transcends industry and borders – but the lessons to be learned remain the same.

While the effects of cybercrime are, of course, tragic (especially given the current environment) – we can still hold on to the hopeful prospects that the current situation presents. Naturally, as cybercriminals move to take advantage of the current situation, the demand for cyber security companies – as well as secure cloud-based offerings – has skyrocketed. As criminals innovate to take advantage of the ‘new normal’, this will hopefully spur a new era of technological innovation and evangelism.

Those that were previously trepidatious or sceptical about embracing technological solutions will have to reconsider their positions as the scales are tilted. Inevitably, the risk of cybercrime will far outweigh the risks of implementing new technology and new compliance systems.

The silver lining? Innovation, digital resurgence and – ultimately – a more considered approach to cybersecurity and technology in general.

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