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How COVID-19 Affected Cybersecurity in 2020

Cybersecurity Awareness – By Ron Frechette, The Cyber Coach

As we dare to reflect on 2020, it will most likely be remembered in the Digital Age archives as the year that the whole world was forced to social distance and convert to remote workforces overnight.  That single shift in our global ecosystem due to the COVID-19 pandemic created a goldmine of opportunity for cyber criminals. Various types of threat actors unleashed countless phishing and ransomware attacks that pulverized small and midsize businesses who had neglected to properly secure their infrastructures.

According to Fintech News, COVID-19 is blamed for a 238% increase in cyberattacks on the financial services industry alone, with 80% of firms worldwide increasing security budgets to better-protect their infrastructures against the onslaught of attacks. The healthcare industry was also a prime target due to the mass increase in patient care on top of all the coronavirus commotion healthcare workers were forced to deal with.  Cyber criminals love distractions.

The following are some alarming 2020 statistics from Fintech News and CSO Online:

COVID-19 Cyber Attack Statistics

  • 500% rise in home office attacks
  • 148% rise in ransomware attacks in March
  • 33% rise in average ransomware payouts
  • 600% rise in phishing attempts since March
  • 630% rise in cloud based attacks between January and April 2020
  • 66% rise in visits to hacker websites and forums
  • 5% of coronavirus-related domains believed suspicious

2020 Top Cybersecurity Facts & Statistics

  • 94% of malware is delivered via email
  • 80% of reported security incidents were phishing attacks
  • $17,700 is lost every minute due to phishing attacks
  • 60% of breaches involved vulnerabilities for which a patch was available but not applied
  • 63% percent of companies said their data was potentially compromised within the last twelve months due to a hardware- or silicon-level security breach
  • 40% of IT leaders say cybersecurity jobs are the most difficult to fill
  • Data breaches cost enterprises an average of $3.92 million

Based on these facts and statistics, it is evident the cybersecurity landscape will continue to be extremely volatile as we move into 2021 and beyond.  Expect to see more federal and state regulatory pressure being put on small and midsize business owners to attest they have the proper security controls in place  to protect their company and client data. We will also see a rise in law suits, fines, and penalties in both the private and public sectors. If you are a business owner and have not implemented a formal cybersecurity program, now is the time to take action.  One click of a nefarious phishing email is all it takes to send your business into a costly tailspin that 60% of small businesses never recover from.

In closing, the first step in beginning the cybersecurity program journey is to conduct a Security Risk Assessment. I will be writing more about this subject in the coming months. There are free resources available to help get the process started.  Until next month, wishing everyone a safe and prosperous 2021!  Questions? Email me: [email protected]

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