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Cybercrime up 330 per cent since working from home | #coronavirus | #scams | #covid19


Cybercrime has increased by 330 per cent since the start of the year compared to the same period last year, new research has revealed, and experts say working from home may be the reason why.
As confidential information is handled from personal devices rather than secure office networks, data is potentially exposed to new and targeted attacks and scams.
As confidential information is handled from personal devices rather than secure office networks, data is potentially exposed to new and targeted attacks and scams. (Getty)

“In March, when people all around the world were not going back to their workplaces, there were many businesses trying to give access to their corporate network, allowing people to connect into their business via personal devices,” leading cybersecurity expert and Global CTO for CrowdStrike, Mark Sentonas, told nine.com.au.

“They don’t know what security is there … this creates a perfect environment for scammers.”

Crowdstrike, an international cybersecurity company, commissioned the report, which surveyed more than 2000 businesses in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand about their cybersecurity practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the report, more than 80 per cent of businesses plan to continue remote working once coronavirus restrictions ease.

Mr Sentonas said this presents a “huge problem”.

“We’re seeing examples of attacks where scammers are using ransomware,” he said.”It’s one of the biggest areas of growth when we look at cyber attacks because there is just so much money to be made.”

Ransomware allows scammers to encrypt all files on a device, used as blackmail to ask for a ransom.

A decryption key is promised once the ransom is paid.

Ransomware allows scammers to encrypt all files on a device, used as blackmail to ask for a ransom.
(Getty Images/Cultura RF)

“It’s not always guaranteed that you get it and it’s not always guaranteed that it will work, but people in a panicked situation are likely to pay that ransom,” Mr Sentonas said.

These complex, ongoing criminal campaigns are motivated purely to make money and sometimes ask for millions of dollars from any one victim.

Mr Sentonas said it is important to not pay the ransom; your data may not be restored and the funds are supporting criminal groups.

Coronavirus a ‘perfect business opportunity’ for scammers

Online attackers also prey on public fear and curiosity surrounding the coronavirus pandemic to scam money, the research revealed.

“Something like this is the perfect business opportunity for scammers,” Mr Sentonas said.

“They typically will look for any opportunity to prey on peoples’ fear, to prey on the fact that there is so much concern about what is going on and access to information.

“You get a situation like COVID-19 and suddenly you’ve got this huge opportunity that they’re using to try and scam people.”

Phishing has become a common scam technique, where attackers impersonate a reliable source through text messages and emails to ‘phish’ for personal information. (Getty)
The ACCC’s leading cybercrime detection agency Scamwatch has received more than 4000 scam reports mentioning coronavirus, with more than $3 million in reported losses since the start of the pandemic.

Phishing has become a common scam technique, where attackers impersonate a reliable source through text messages and emails to steal your information.

“Scammers are pretending to be from real and well-known businesses such as banks, travel agents, insurance providers and telco companies, and using various excuses around COVID-19 to ask for your personal and financial information, lure you into opening malicious links or attachments, gain remote access to your computer, seek payment for a fake service or something you did not purchase,” Scamwatch said in a statement.

Mr Sentonas said the best way to protect yourself is to be cautious.

“Always doubt and verify,” he said.

“Don’t click on links. If someone sends you an offer or asks for your bank details – you’re not going to get that through a text or through an email.

“Call your bank or the relevant service provider.”It may take a couple of minutes of your time to do that check, but it may also save you thousands and thousands of dollars.”



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