This is how vulnerable you are to cyber attacks because of the pandemic

Security setups, identity verifications, passcodes. As annoying and intricate as the setup and process of it all can be, it exists to help us safeguard ourselves. And we need that more than ever as the pandemic has put our digital security more into jeopardy than ever before.

Whether protecting us and our physical space from the outside world or threats, providing us access to our job applications and updated insights, allowing us an advantage for that upcoming meeting, or securing our banking information for that next online purchase, at the core of it all this security is preventing fraud on many levels. 

The pandemic has undoubtedly increased remote work opportunities as the previous 12 years saw a 159% increase in available work from home jobs. But with so many companies moving to online platforms and digital options they otherwise may not have had to interact with, digital security isn’t always understood or prioritized.

With the added increase in technological development comes more opportunity for cyber attacks and hackers retrieving information from your online presence. According to Forbes, “COVID-19 related scams have affected 31% of people around the world, and the FBI flagged a spike in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims amid the pandemic.”

This isn’t the only way the pandemic has lent itself to a widespread and rapid increase in fraud. Scammers are taking direct advantage of this time of hardship to build campaigns around “fundraising opportunities.” In fact, As of June 2020, 22% of consumers polled were targeted by non-profit and fundraising scams already.

While working from home can provide an ideal working environment for many, perhaps one of the most detrimental aspects to this type of environment is access to data in a lesser controlled setting. Diversifying systems, locations, and processing is ideal for growth, but having to develop these business practices in the shadow of pandemic panic can lead to choosing options that might not suit your specific needs. Besides that, people who used to hack as a hobby are finding more wiggle room in their work from home environments to develop their skills undetected, or on a schedule that better suits approaching the companies they prey on at their most vulnerable. 

The threat of hacking is already very serious within a company’s private data, and this type of activity is often aimed to expose client or product information, which could be devastating for one or both parties. Hacks like this expose banking and identity information, purchasing details for data miners, and more. And in 2020? Over 36 billion records were breached. According to the Taiwan News

Bringing together the above trends and predictions, the combination of accelerated digital transformation among businesses, skyrocketing consumer usage of social media, ecommerce, ebanking and online platforms, and increased collaboration across FIs [financial institutions] and non-bank organisations result in growing opportunities for fraudsters and crime syndicates to mine data.

While we all participate in data mining to some extent with our social media usage, hackers are known to take that mining to an extreme. Any data mined from public or private sources that can be linked directly back to us can be used to guess passwords and additional sensitive information in the future.

What can you do to protect yourself?

If you haven’t already put rules around what information you’re willing to have available on the internet, now is the time. Be strategic about how you pay for things online.

For example, how many credit or debit cards do you have linked to different accounts? How many places do you have this sensitive information stored, and can you swap it out for more secure options, like gift cards or digital accounts like PayPal and Venmo? 

Now might also be the time to consider where you keep sensitive passwords and information. Do you trust a secure operating system like LastPass that can log you in with ease based on a master password, or do you keep everything in a less convenient notebook? Even encrypted files can be hacked, so securing your personal information now is a very strategic career and financial move for the future.  

Because of the increased ease with which hackers have been able to get into accounts through basic password detection and advanced skills, the enactment of California’s Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act of 2020, and many other contributing factors, 2021 might just be the year to get rid of passwords completely and spring for better, more functional options.Help improve the security standards and processes of your favorite company with these available Cyber Security Specialist jobs.