Cyberattacks Skyrocketing Amidst Pandemic

The outbreak of COVID-19 hit the United States hard in many ways. From massive layoffs and business closures to widespread panic in communities and financial markets, the U.S. is still trying to climb out of a massive economic hole. But while the country re-opens slowly and people are returning to work, there’s yet another obstacle the country is facing: cyberattacks.

COVID-19’s Contribution to a Surge in Cyberattacks

Online crimes reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center have skyrocketed since the spread of COVID-19 this spring. Everything from ransomware attacks to DDOS attacks have quadrupled and are only expected to continue to rise in the coming months.

According to the FBI, the number of cybersecurity complaints since January have gone up from 1,000 daily attacks to as many as 4,000 in one day. And while Cyberattack threats have needed adequate protection for years, it’s now more important than ever for clients to educate themselves on the vulnerability that networks and businesses are currently enduring.

Who’s Committing the Cyberattacks?

According to the FBI, foreign nation-state hackers are targeting organizations, including healthcare institutions and research facilities, who are working on treatments for COVID-19. This has disrupted these organizations’ developments and taken away time devoted to understanding the virus better and how to treat it by having to pick up the pieces following a cyberattack. While it’s not unheard of for foreign actors to target medical companies and institutions, it’s even more heightened during these times.

One reason for this, is that these research companies are now more in the public eye than before as they race to find a cure for the virus. This has made them a mark for cyberattacks as hackers want to steal information about their studies and potentially steal proprietary information being stored. For instance, this past March, ransomware attackers targeted 10x Genomics, a California-based biotech research firm working on the body’s immune system response to vaccines for COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) have also been the target of ransomware and phishing attacks. During the same period, hackers infiltrated the HHS’ text message system, sending out misinformation via SMS to people stating there was an impending national quarantine because of COVID-19.

Now more than ever, it’s crucial for healthcare clients to board up their networks and secure as much medical information as possible. Any kind of data is viewed as valuable to hackers looking to exploit what they can, especially at a vulnerable time.

Healthcare industries must have preventative measures

Healthcare organizations can take steps to prevent more damage from happening and more information from being compromised. Some preventative practices include implementing secure passwords and updating them a few times each quarter and holding regular training sessions to educate staff on the cyber risks they are likely to face. Finally, it’s crucial to ensure cyber insurance is in effect and addresses each specific exposure. Healthcare organizations need to be proactive when keeping cyber risks at bay in such a vulnerable time.

About Mavon Insurance

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