The Covid-19 outbreak infuses the world with cybercrime - What to do?

August 21, 2020

covid 19 videoconferencing

Written by Jasper de Taeye, Sales Director for the Benelux market at Wire™.

At the beginning of January 2020, the first people nudged me about the rise of a virus that could become a pandemic. We all know by now how it disrupted our world entirely. I was an ignorant Dutchman and I believed it would not become that dramatic. I truly believed, and mostly hoped, that this coronavirus will be nipped in the bud, like previous viruses, by the strictly regulated China. Nothing could be further from the truth, Covid-19 forced many people in the world into isolation and strict living conditions.

The implications of the Covid-19 catastrophe are not crystalised yet, but experts do expect that the consequences of this pandemic are going to be immense and life-changing. McKinsey explains in their reports that many business industries are hit hard and it will take a long time for them to recover. Especially the industries "Arts, Entertainment & Recreation", "Accommodation and Food Services" and "Mining, Quarrying, Oil & Gas extraction" are hit severely. ABN AMRO research expects a short but sharp recession. But that's all from an economic perspective. From a social perspective, Covid-19 has fueled the already existing loneliness epidemic. We have to find new ways to socialize while working from home has become the new normal. Tons of companies are extending the work-from-home policy to the end of 2020 and beyond.

Forcefully imposed by governmental regulations, a lot of people had to work from home. Companies thought that was going to negatively impact their workforce's productivity. The contrary is true. The BBC found that remote workers are 13% more productive. Suddenly, working from home has become attractive to companies. It means less office facilitation costs. While this has a net positive impact on employees’ work/life balance, it has major repercussions for the cybersecurity of these organisations.

Wire's Future of Work report states:

The biggest challenge of a mobile workforce is ensuring the integrity of company data outside the four walls of a physical office, its firewalls, and secure internet access. Digital assets are the lifeblood of an organization. Without them, there is no product, no service, no sales. In our recent report, Odds of a Bad Bet, we highlighted the extreme likelihood of businesses suffering from cybersecurity flaws, including the fact that a business is as likely to avoid a malware attack in a given year as pulling the Ace of Spades from a shuffled deck on one try.

Cybercrime is here to stay. We cannot elude it anymore. Like we protect our transportation vehicles from being vulnerable, we should protect our company data from any vulnerability. As we have moved away from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge-based economy, our most valuable assets have shifted from physical ones towards intellectual property and data. The economist found that data has now surpassed oil as the most valuable commodity in the global economy. So, it is obvious that we have to protect it.

Although, many companies do not protect their data as stringently as they protect their physical assets. We human beings have difficulty to adapt and we tend to get stuck in the past. Often, disruptive events have to happen to let humans understand the magnitude of a problem. I believe that Covid-19 can be such an event.

Today, companies already recognize the value of their data and mostly stay abreast of the latest ways for protecting this valuable modern-day asset that is vulnerable to hacking. Although with 4 out of 10 employees believing that their CEO under-values cybersecurity, it's clear that there's still room for improvement. The question you can ask yourself is: are these companies prepared for the coming changes this decade?

Let me be clear: I know that a lot of companies already invest in cybersecurity and are developing their organisation accordingly, but I believe that this pandemic, with the vast amount of employees working from home, will just give that last push for organisations to start committing fully to establishing a cybersecure organisation.

My best bet on how cybercrime will evolve in the coming 5 years.

At the moment, cybercrime is still attractive enough for criminals to invest their time in. It is for a reason that the cost of cybercrime has been predicted to go up to $6 trillion in 2021. With employees working significantly more from home, this will only accelerate the rise of cybercrime, as there are more entries to breach organisations. Nonetheless, I believe that the awareness of cybercrime will increase partially due to companies that have been hacked.

According to "It’s only a matter of time before ransomware’s big game hunters strike again." They will come to understand what the vulnerabilities are within the organisation and they will start questioning the status quo, like the use of Microsoft Teams, Slack or Google Hangouts. They will start to understand that end-to-end encrypted digital collaboration is the only alternative. While time evolves, companies will become fortresses and cybercrime will start to decrease. And the digital world will become a safe space.

We cannot escape it anymore. But if we cannot escape it, we can fight it by protecting ourselves accordingly. Will you do it?

You can download the free report on the Future of Work 2020 here.

Based in Rotterdam, Jasper de Taeye is the Sales Director for the Benelux market at Wire™, an enterprise-grade, end-to-end encrypted collaboration platform. Bringing together his background as an entrepreneur and his previous experience at New Relic, Jasper shares his personal take on where the future of work is headed and its impact on businesses with a focus on cybersecurity.

Contact to learn more about his contribution to the fight against cybercriminality and providing workers with a worry-free way to collaborate with each other.

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