Cybercrime and Covid

The UK has seen a 15-fold rise in the number of covid-related cybercrime scams since the beginning of the pandemic.

We discuss why covid-19 has led to a surge in cyber attacks, what to watch out for and how to protect your firm.

Cybercrime and covid: the reason behind the rise of online threats

Cyber threats began with hacking in the 1970s, but have since developed in scope and complexity.

Covid has forced the world to rely heavily on remote working, automation and technology to continue working and stay connected with co-workers, friends and family.

Cybercriminals have taken advantage of the change in processes and lifestyle by targeting businesses and individuals to try and gain access to confidential and sensitive information.

Cybercrime and Covid: scams to be aware of

  1. Fake government emails that appear to be genuine and offer grants, but contain dangerous links that allow the hacker to steal sensitive information.
  2. Scam emails that offer Covid-19 relief funds. Cybercriminals are known to target people who are either on benefits or have lost their job due to the pandemic, offering to help them apply for a government loan. Once the victim has provided their personal details, the scammer uses them to apply for an advance loan from Universal Credit and keeps the money. This type of scam often leaves the target with large loans to repay.
  3. Suspicious emails pretending to be from The World Health Organization (WHO): fraudulent emails are being sent asking for donations to fund research for Coronavirus and vaccines. These emails often contain malicious attachments or links that can reveal your usernames and passwords. WHO will never ask for your username or password, or email you attachments that you are not expecting.  
  4. Phishing emails or texts that claim the recipient has been in contact with somebody who has Covid-19: these emails or texts often look genuine but contain links that take you to a website that requests your personal information.
  5. Cyberattacks on video conferencing services: cybercriminals are also targeting remote workers with video conferencing attacks. Hackers gain access to a videoconferencing meeting uninvited to listen to sensitive conversations or trick participants into clicking on a malicious link by sending it in the chat function.
  6. Online shopping scams for products such as hand sanitizer, face masks and fake test kits: these types of adverts are a scam that takes victim’s money without sending them any items.

Protect your firm from Covid-related cyber attacks

These days, cybercriminals can do more harm than thieves who steal equipment or damage property. Use these tips to protect your firm and employees from Covid-related cyber attacks.

  • Cybersecurity training: even with the latest antivirus and firewall software, human error is still the number one cause of most data breaches. Providing staff with training on how to spot cybercrime is one of the best ways to protect your business.
  •  Use a reliable VPN: a VPN (virtual private network) will allow your employees to connect securely to your network and makes you invisible to hackers, preventing them from stealing passwords of other sensitive information.
  • Use strong passwords: a good example of a strong password is one that contains three random words, a number and a special character, for example ‘TallTreePark4!’ if you believe you have given personal data such as your username or password to a cybercriminal, change them immediately.
  •  Keep your software updated: out of date software makes your network vulnerable, allowing cybercriminals to access your computer systems.
  • Check suspicious links before clicking: watch out for links that contain strange characters or if the link is short as this could indicate that the link has been sent from a hacker. If in doubt, use a link scanner such as Norton SafeWeb to confirm that it’s safe to use.
  • Check for spelling mistakes in emails: spam often contains poorly written text with spelling and grammar errors. An email from a legitimate company or individual should be well-written, however sometimes this is done deliberately to make them sound more genuine. Another reason is that misspelled words can have a higher chance of penetrating through spam filters.
  • Confirm the sender’s email address: verify emails that are claiming to be from your bank or a government department by contacting them directly.

Cybercrime and Covid may have lasting implications for businesses. If you think you have been the victim of a cybercrime, or have been sent anything suspicious, it’s important to report it to Action Fraud.

Our IT security services will give you the knowledge and technology needed to protect your legal firm. Get in touch to arrange your free IT security consultation.