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COVID-19 uncertainty is fertile ground for cybercrime

Published on 19 Aug 2020

Before COVID-19, the 2020 outlook for cybercrime didn’t look too bad. In fact, the number of publicly reported breaches in Q1 2020 showed a 58% decline compared to the same period in 2019.  Then came the virus that changed everything. Unfortunately, when sudden changes result in rushed responses, as experienced with the initial lockdown, cybersecurity is easily compromised. Also, sadly,  cybercrime thrives on uncertainty. 

Fast forward to the middle of Q3 and 2020 has the dubious honor of looking good to set a new data breach record. 8.4-Billion records were exposed this year in Q1, a 273% increase compared to the same time last year! 

billion records have been exposed this year.

Cybercrime thrives on uncertainty

With the sudden move to working remotely and staying at home, digital messaging between individuals and for business purposes has become a vital part of everyday life. In addition to this, organizations that previously communicated with customers in-branch or via printed mail were forced to move all communication onto digital channels very quickly.

In an article on cybercrime, CNBC points to a number of factors that resulted in the uptick in data breaches. Companies that rushed to get set up for remote work may have taken shortcuts on information security. Increased digital activity and digital usership served to expand the potential hunting ground for cybercriminals. Not to mention creating a fresh audience with a limited online experience. 

The bottom line is: 

With increased digital activity, comes increased security challenges.

End-user education is still the best cybersecurity investment 

Changes to the business and social landscape since the onslaught of COVID-19 restrictions have not negated the fact that end-user education remains the most important factor in combating cybercrime.


of cyber-attacks are as a result of human error

There are other ways that an organization can assist its customers to protect their own personal data, aside from educating them on risky or ignorant behavior. 

It goes without saying that, when an organization is processing personal information, it must have appropriate safeguards in place to protect sensitive data. But, many have not considered that, to be truly secure, these safeguards must extend beyond the reach of the organization, to the individual’s device. 

Reduce your customers’ risk of personal data loss

Organizations should do everything possible to keep their customers’ data secure all the way through the information lifecycle. This includes helping customers keep information safe on their personal devices

The best way to achieve this is to encrypt personal information from the point of origin, all the way through to storage on the customer’s computer or mobile phone. When encrypted, the confidential document can only be accessed by the intended recipient. 

Aside from the legal obligation to secure personal information when processing or storing it, there’s also a logical, self-preservation element to protecting data throughout the lifecycle.  This is because bad news travels fast when a customer’s personal data is exploited and the fact that it was breached outside of the organization that held it, doesn’t always filter through. This can lead to undeserved reputational damage. 

Linda Misauer

Linda Misauer

Head of Global Solutions

Read more on how to keep your customers' documents secure.