Cybercrime will surge at least 150% in 2020 due to COVID-19

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As the world grapples with coronavirus (COVID-19), the economic impact is mounting — with the OECD warning the virus presents the biggest danger to the global economy since the 2008 financial crisis.

One of the biggest challenges during the crisis in unemployment. People are losing their jobs, companies are bankrupting and the world falls into the global recession. To make some parallels let’s remember that during the Great Depression, the world was hit with an extremely large unemployment rate. By 1933, the unemployment rate in the US had climbed from 3% to 25%. By 1932, over 13 million Americans had lost their jobs. Since the start of the recession 2008–2012, 8.8 million jobs have been lost in the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and 22 million jobs were lost around the world between 2008–9, during the global financial crisis.

The new coronavirus could claim up to 24.7 million jobs, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates The United Nations’ labor agency suggested this was a worst-case, or “high,” scenario of global unemployment but said internationally-coordinated policy response could mean a significantly lower impact. In this case, it estimated a “low” unemployment scenario of 5.3 million. It, therefore, calculated a “mid” scenario of 13 million jobs lost, 7.4 million of which would be in high-income countries. On the other hand, Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary, has warned the American public that unemployment levels could hit 20%.

In 2008, the number of cybercrimes and data breaches increased by 47% compared to 2007 in the USA, when U.S. employers shed 2.6 million jobs in 2008. The amount of monetary damage caused by cybercrime increased by 110% during 2008–2009 according to the US Department of Justice.

And as we see from the chart it decreases after the recession when the economy recovers and the unemployment rate falls. In 2011–2013 the number of cybercrimes decreased by 37% when the economy recovered almost all jobs lost during the recession. So there is a straight correlation between unemployment caused by the crisis and the number of cybercrimes. When the new coronavirus could claim about 25 million jobs, 13% more than during the crisis, we can predict more than 50% increase in the number of cybercrimes in 2020–2021 and 150% in the amount of monetary damage caused by the Cov19 crisis.

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Without proper tools and education, we expect at this figure to be the very minimum, but most likely worse due to the increase in digital activities, during the current health crisis. Many countries are on lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus and relieve pressure on the healthcare system by reducing the curve of the infection.

We all have new worries thanks to the current coronavirus pandemic, but the old worries haven’t gone away. More users are working from home online as a result of lockdowns and quarantines around the world, and with that, it makes them a prime target for hackers. In addition, we have seen a surge of hackers, both active and occupational hackers as well as amateur hackers. The main actors are malicious hackers, some of whom are trying to use the outbreak to steal or ransom victims’ data. More important than ever, the demand for cybersecurity is on the rise.

The direct impact of the Coronavirus is a wide social distancing policy that compels multiple organizations to allow their workforce to work from home in order to maintain business continuity. This inevitably entails shifting a significant portion of the workload to be carried out remotely, introducing an exploitable opportunity for attackers. Individuals are becoming more vulnerable to black hackers. Hackers are more dangerous than ever now in the period of crisis when people are scared and confused. To make things worse, many individuals are accessing their workplace servers from unsecured laptops or poorly configured workstations.

The opportunity attackers see is the mass use of remote login credentials to organizational resources that far exceed the norm. As a result, remote connections are established by employees and devices that have never done so before, meaning that an attacker could easily conceal a malicious login without being detected by the target organization’s security team.

Another target that is common for cybercriminals are digital asset and cryptocurrency owners. Any users that have made social media posts that suggest that their own crypto assets are highly likely to be targeted and included in a hacker’s database of potential victims.

One of the most dangerous techniques can be phishing. You should be aware of suspicious email messages attempting to take advantage of the 2019 novel coronavirus emergency. These “Phishing” emails may appear from a different organization and will ask users to:

  • give sensitive information, such as usernames or passwords
  • click a malicious link
  • open a malicious attachment.
  • Fabricated notices from health organizations (e.g., the Federal Government, CDC, WHO or local health departments).
  • Phony websites containing maps and dashboards
  • Information about protecting yourself, your children or your community that contains malicious links or attachments
  • Charitable appeals, claiming to help victims of the virus, which are not legitimate
  • Misleading ads or spam about masks or other protective gear, or other helpful hints to combat the virus.
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Phishing email related to coronavirus

Using this method, criminals can install malware or steal sensitive information. The following tips can prevent a phishing attack:

  1. Verify the sender by checking their email address. A coronavirus-themed email that seeks personal information like your Social Security number or login information is a phishing scam. Legitimate government agencies won’t ask for that information. Never respond to the email with your personal data.
  2. Check the link before you click. You can inspect a link by hovering your mouse button over the URL to see where it leads. Sometimes, it’s obvious the web address is not legitimate. But keep in mind phishers can create links that closely resemble legitimate addresses. Delete the email.
  3. Watch for spelling and grammatical mistakes. If an email includes spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, it’s likely a sign you’ve received a phishing email. Delete it.
  4. Look for generic greetings. Phishing emails are unlikely to use your name. Greetings like “Dear sir or madam” signal an email is not legitimate.
  5. Be careful when providing personal information. Always consider why someone wants your information and if it is appropriate. There is no reason someone would need your username & password to access public information.
  6. Do not rush or feel under pressure. Cybercriminals use emergencies such as 2019-nCov to get people to make decisions quickly. Always take time to think about a request for your personal information, and whether the request is appropriate.
  7. If you gave sensitive information, don’t panic. If you believe you have given data such as your username or passwords to cybercriminals, immediately change your credentials on each site where you have used them.
  8. If you see a scam, report it.

HackenAI is the all-in-one continually developing personal cybersecurity application that incentivizes users to learn good cybersecurity habits. The HackenAI app offers you the all essentials tools needed to get maximum cybersecurity protection in today’s digital and decentralized world.

Among such features as a password manager, VPN, MFA and others, HackenAI will offer users with the Anti-Phishing and Malicious Websites Blocker tool. It checks websites on traffic levels when you try to visit against a list of known malware and phishing sites and block access to sites on the list. It will help you to prevent phishing scams on the website level, but it is not so effective against direct email phishing. To learn more about how to avoid phishing scams, HackenAI offers free cybersecurity educational modules. It consists of 6 modules on such topics as account management, anti-phishing, privacy and many more. Passing the second module of the CyberBootCamp you can learn a variety of anti-phishing techniques which will give you the skills that will help you to recognize these types of threats, eliminating the potential to fall for these types of scams.

We at HackenAI feel it is extremely important to educate yourself now more than ever on cybersecurity. Using our referral bonus program is an extremely effective way of earning HAI whilst also pitching the HackenAI app to help raise awareness of these testing times. We are nearing the end of Beta testing where we have had amazing feedback from our community and soon we will be releasing our MVP app to the world!

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