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Have COVID-19 Remote Necessities Put Your Business At Fraud Risk?
Digital fraudsters do not necessarily view the COVID-19 pandemic as a bad thing. In the eyes of a digital scam artist, it represented a perfect storm of remote vulnerabilities and heightened anxieties to prey upon.
With the COVID-19 crisis as the backdrop, fraudsters appear to be redoubling their efforts to steal information or money from unsuspecting users, sending fake emails and text messages as bait, in a scheme known as phishing,” CBC News reports. “In one scam, fraudsters pretend to be processing EI claims, preying on Canadians who’ve recently lost their jobs. Users are asked to enter their details, only for the information to be accessed by criminals.”
Cybercriminals are not going to let a good crisis go to waste, and organizations that switched to remote workforces are at heightened risk of digital fraud.
What is Digital Fraud?
One of the sometimes confusing issues revolves around the difference between a “data breach” and fraud. Every day, people tend to use the terms interchangeably. Although overlap exists, subtle differences distinguish one from the others.
A data breach generally refers to the criminal activities that occur once a hacker has penetrated cybersecurity measures. A breach simply means the digital burglar has successfully negotiated deficiencies in firewalls, antivirus software, encryption, and secure remote connectivity, among others. Data does not necessarily have to be pilfered off to count as a breach. The term refers to the break-in.
Fraud, on the other hand, refers to a type of theft or deception. In the retail industry, the unauthorized use of credit cards tends to be the most prevalent type of fraud. Now that an overwhelming number of companies have shifted operations online, digital or “data” fraud involves accessing bits of information to conduct unauthorized transactions.
With valuable financial data in hand, digital fraudsters can make large purchases from halfway around the world. They are typically outside Canada’s legal jurisdiction and beyond prosecution.
Digital Fraud & The COVID-19 Crisis?
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, upwards of 12,967 incidents were reported through mid-April, impacting 6,188 victims. All told, a reported $15.8 million was lost to fraud.
Cybercriminals have been rolling out convincing coronavirus scams that are baiting remote work-from-home employees into making critical missteps. These include the following.
- Phishing Schemes: Digital con artists are sending out bulk emails that prey on COVID-19 fear and anxiety. Many promise vaccines, overnight testing kits, immunity boosters, and other health and wellness benefits. Downloading a file or clicking on a link can result in spyware infiltrating a personal device. That leads to pilfering off credit card information, bank account numbers, or access to a complete business network.
- Coronavirus Websites: Thousands of virus-themed domains were activated as the outbreak turned into a pandemic. Fake websites offer products and services that many Canadians might purchase out of fear. Once credit card information has been entered, a submit link is clicked, and hackers can seize control of a device and breach a business network.
- Text Messages: Cybercriminals are willing to utilize any electronic messaging platform available. Digital fraudsters are blanketing cell phones with COVID-19 alerts hoping unassuming community members will click on a link for more information. If a cell phone has financial information saved or a company username and password, it’s a straight shot to fraud.
What Can Businesses Do To Prevent Digital Fraud?
In a rush to remain productive through the crisis, many organizations moved forward with remote capabilities without enterprise-level cybersecurity measures in place. Digital fraudsters are well aware of the dilemma Canadians businesses faced and are circling remote workforces like vultures.
Industry leaders are now tasked with revisiting remote workforce protocols and upgrading to business-grade defenses. Items such as virtual private networks, program patches, data encryption, and financial monitoring, among others, can harden your defenses against hacker infiltrations and digital fraud. If you recently expanded your remote workforce footprint to get through the crisis, Sysoft delivers managed IT cybersecurity for businesses in the Greater Toronto region.