Opportunistic and quick to respond to new vulnerabilities or exposures, cyber criminals have wasted no time in adapting to the conditions presented by Australia’s response to COVID-19. Gallagher cyber practice leader Robyn Adcock explains why the restrictions that helped contain the spread of the virus also encouraged a cyber crime wave.
Adcock says the widespread move to working from home has opened up gaps in business’s digital security, whether it’s because some people are using personal computers shared with other family members who may install games or software that introduce viruses or security holes, or because they fall prey to a scam.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak Scamwatch has received more than 2700 scam reports mentioning the coronavirus, with more than $1,114,000 in reported losses.
Common scams include phishing, online shopping and superannuation scams. Identity theft is a major threat, with cyber criminals pretending to be government agencies sending emails that look legitimate but often contain malicious links and attachments designed to steal personal and financial information.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) warns that “scammers have been doing an excellent job of impersonating the government, and at the same time have been actively pushing for people's personal information — including bank account details and superannuation account details — as we've never seen before".
“Criminals are using fear of the pandemic to be more effective in their social engineering attacks,” Adcock says.
“We’ve had clients who have suffered claims as a result of their employees clicking on a link asking them to upload their credentials. The link is loaded with ransomware so insurers all are seeing an increase in claims as a result of this activity.”
Robyn Adcock, Gallagher cyber practice leader
She says the challenge for businesses is to keep their employees safe in an IT environment at home. “The human factor is still such a huge element in why there are so many cyber security claims.”
She mentions distraction due to the presence of young children – or simply anxiety about current conditions – may also be an influence.
Education, risk mitigation controls and insurance
Employee education was already of major importance to cyber security before the pandemic and now this is even more heightened. “And then of course insurance, because insurance closes the gaps.”
Adcock says she sees insurance as an essential back-up to a risk mitigation approach of helping clients understand the controls that can be implemented to close those gaps. Prevention is the priority.
Hear Robyn Adcock talk about the key security concerns for businesses with employees working remotely.
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