Warning as UK Sees Marked Increase in Cybercrime During Pandemic

Over the past year alone, UK businesses have lost more than £6.2 million to cyber scams, with a 31 per cent increase in cases during the height of the pandemic in 2020. From hacking to phishing, and ransomware to data harvesting, the threats to businesses of all types and sizes has intensified considerably. Here we look at how COVID-19 has affected cybercrime, and what businesses should be doing to protect themselves from the newly increased threats.


Police data has revealed that almost 3,500 UK businesses became victims of cyber scams between September 2019 and September 2020, with 1,740 of those reported during lockdown.


The most prevalent type of cyber-attack was hacking of email or social media accounts, accounting for 53 per cent of all attacks for the period and resulting in a loss of £2.9 million. Server hacking was reported as the second most common category of attack.


London was the area of the country where businesses lost the most amount of money following a cyber-attack, with losses of over £300,000.


Why the increase in cybercrime during the pandemic?


As everyone was separated from their regular routines, in business and at home, so cyber criminals took advantage of the situation. As millions of people started working from home at short notice, cyber security took a back seat both in terms of actual security measures, and staff awareness training.


In addition, with people in a high state of emotion, making irrational decisions, such as being tricked into clicking links in bogus emails, was fairly commonplace.


Phishing scams, fraudulent emails urging victims to transfer funds directly or click a link or open an attachment that installs malicious software, have been widespread during the pandemic.


Hackers have also preyed on people’s natural vulnerability tricking them with scam pandemic-related emails, posing as official and trusted sources such government and healthcare agencies, including HMRC and the Health and Safety Executive.


Another fast growing trend in cybercrime is ransomware. This is a variation of malware that allows hackers to lock people out of their business systems, pending a ransom payment. Such attacks have increased since the start of the global health crisis in early 2020.


A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that 21% of workers have felt more vulnerable to cybercrime since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. For this reason, it is vital that every business has watertight cybersecurity, and a comprehensive staff awareness programme in place.


How to protect against the threat of cyber-attacks?


There are a number of good cyber security habits that your business can adopt in order to protect against cyber-attacks. A robust cyber strategy is vital, and has never been so important. Training and support for staff should form a crucial part of this strategy. Awareness of the scams that are causing so much disruption to organisations worldwide is essential.


It is also vital that everyone in your organisation is aware of why cyber security is important, and how costly a cyber-attack can be, and to be aware of how to report a cyber attack.


Expert cyber security support from PC Docs


The expert team at PC Docs offers a comprehensive package of cyber security solutions, all of which we can tailor to suit your individual business needs and cyber risk assessment.


From anti-malware and adware systems, to firewall and antivirus setup and management, internet and spam filters and email scanning software, our services are fully inclusive. We also offer personalised advice on good cyber security practice.


To discover how we can help keep your organisation safeguarded against all the latest cyber threats during the pandemic and beyond, you are welcome to get in touch.

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