2020 has been a year like no other when it comes to digital work solutions. The pandemic has forced businesses to implement digital strategies to survive in a remote working environment. For employees, it’s been a welcome revolution that supports work/life balance. Yet, for companies, it’s been a challenge of every day. Most businesses were unprepared for the challenges of a virtual office at the start of the pandemic. Unfortunately, this has exposed companies to a sudden surge of USA crime and cyber attacks. In the United States only, states have faced devastating cyber crimes. California suffered the biggest financial losses, with an annual loss of $621.45 million to cyber attacks.
Hackers and cyber criminals have capitalized on the sudden and urgent pandemic-related digital expansion. Indeed, without the support of an IT company to guide businesses through their digital strategy, businesses fell short of secure infrastructures, safe practices, safety guidelines, and employees’ online safety training.
Some of the biggest cyber crimes of 2020 in California
Pandemic chaos has driven cyber crime and hacking, leading to a 273% increase in data breaches in the first 2020 quarter. Criminals have been relentlessly targeting businesses of all sizes, ranging from governmental and educational institutions to small companies. Some of the most significant data breaches in California in 2020 include the University of California SF, which was made to pay ransom to hackers in height of $1.14 million to save research data.
The city of Torrance suffered a $700,000 loss through a ransomware attack that disabled its email, financial system, and website. For large companies, data breaches can result in the loss of millions of data, affecting the company value by an average of 7.27%, according to Iomart. Yet, for small businesses, data breaches and other cyber attacks could have much more catastrophic consequences.
Why has coronavirus chaos encouraged cyber crimes?
An unprecedented global crisis such as Covid-19 has created an environment of confusion, fear, and rapid and unplanned digitization. For cyber criminals, those have been the perfect conditions to take advantage of the new digital behaviors. As companies and individuals focused on surviving the pandemic, scammers and hackers took advantage of the situation.
Businesses are not the sole victims. Identity theft increased by 42% in 2020, leading to $712.4 billion lost to Covid-19 scams and other frauds. Indeed, unprepared individuals in California reported over 147,000 cases of identity theft in 2020.
How can you protect your company?
As we can expect many businesses to explore virtual office models in the future, it’s essential to pave the way to digital security and consult with best virtual office providers out there. California businesses can reach out to a local IT expert to prepare a cyber security plan. With the help of a managed IT security provider, companies can:
- Identify the security strengths and weaknesses,
- Develop a cyber security plan that follows essential regulatory requirements,
- Build backup plans,
- Train employees and introduce proactive cyber security awareness,
- Create an incident response plan of action.
While the pandemic is no novelty anymore, it doesn’t mean that cyber crime is going away. On the contrary, scammers and hackers are constantly adapting and learning from the new situation. Experts expect cyber crime to cause up to $6 trillion in damage by the end of 2021. The question is: Are businesses prepared to deal with new cyber security challenges?