illustration of cyber security on a computer

16th February 2022

How Has The Pandemic Increased Cybersecurity Threats?

Stan Milanovich

The pandemic didn’t just impact our day-to-day lives, the way we work and our attitudes to illness. It has had a profound effect on many industries, completely transforming some overnight.

For those of us in the IT sector, one of the most interesting, and equally troubling changes, was the phenomenal rise in cybersecurity threats.

illustration of people buying online with security With more and more online buying and leisure, cybersecurity had been a hot topic for some time. However, it was taken more seriously by some industries than others. The data some companies work with is just more sensitive than others.

However, the pandemic created a new and strange environment. One that allowed cyber threats to bloom at an astonishing rate. In fact, cybersecurity threats have increased a stomach-churning 81% since the start of the global pandemic.

If you think that most of these were minor inconveniences, you’d be mistaken. For the UK, data breach statistics of 2021 cost on average £8460 per incidence. On top of the cost of rectifying those cyber breaches, 79% of organisations experienced significant downtime due to cybersecurity risk during peak season and this led to even greater overall losses. This goes without mentioning further financial losses due to a lack of trust from clients and customers when the breaches come to light.

It is clear that the cybersecurity threat is a big problem for companies, and that it became far worse during the pandemic.

 

But what caused it to increase so much during this time?

One of the main factors was a sudden increase in the use of technologies in business. The pandemic took off around the world faster and more violently than expected by many of us, so there was a distinct lack of preparation by businesses. Many businesses were already relying on old fashioned, outdated operations methods that were in desperate need of an upgrade before the pandemic.

With home working becoming compulsory overnight, there was greater use of:

  • Video conferencing

  • Workers using their own, inadequately cyber secure devices to work from home

  • More new applications were used for online collaboration

a lady working from home with a laptop

 

With so many new techs that were untested and rolled out rapidly on such a large scale, this gave ample areas for nefarious bodies to exploit.

Of course, it went far beyond the Zoom call bombing. Thanks to the rise in online ordering, online banking, and online transactions in general, cybersecurity threats saw a golden age to exploit this during the pandemic.

Workers using insecure personal computers to handle sensitive company data was one of the biggest issues. A staggering number of companies were not prepared for this. They didn’t want to lose any more profits and it seemed more important to keep staff working from home than considering the cybersecurity implications of having them work on personal computers.

Personal computers and Wi-Fi networks are usually far less secure and have less protective software than business devices. While unsupervised and on insecure devices, the chance for human error, either deliberately malicious or naive, increases.

Human error was one of the biggest causes of security breaches in companies.

One of the issues that led to this situation was the lack of time that IT pros and departments were given to react. A pandemic on this scale was a uniquely challenging circumstance and most businesses did not have the right tools in place to enable staff to work cyber-safely from home.

6 apple devices for £38 While viruses and ransomware are still a huge threat, employee negligence and hacking unsecured servers were some of the major culprits for the biggest data breaches.

It should, therefore, be little surprise to anyone that the increased demand for cybersecurity will lead global security revenues in the retail banking sector to rise from $7.9bn in 2019 to $9.8bn by 2024.

Naturally, some industries will be more vulnerable to the increasingly challenging cybersecurity threats that have been exacerbated over the pandemic. FinTechs are one such sector.

 

FinTechs And Cybersecurity

FinTechs are one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.

Much as communications technology surged in the pandemic, so too did the need for FinTech. Finance Technology covers a wide range of complex sectors, including:

  • Online banking

  • Payment portals – PayPal

  • Holiday money cards

  • Online wallets – Google pay

  • Cryptocurrency

  • Insurance

  • Equity financing

  • Peer to peer lending

  • Investing

  • Lending

 

 

More businesses and individuals had need of FinTech during the pandemic, which pushed this already growing industry to a boom. It is now the largest funded category globally. FinTech received over $130b in capital representing 20% of all capital invested in 2021.

In the UK alone, FinTech saw record years for investment during the pandemic. This reached $11.6bn in 2021, which is a 217% increase from 2020.

It is predicted that the industry could see a further 25% growth in 2022.

While this is good news for FinTech companies, the parallel rise of cyber threats is far less welcome news.

As new companies dealing with new, untested tech that handles delicate confidential financial data, FinTech is one of the most vulnerable industries to cyber threats and is in place to bear the worst consequences for a breach.

 

Secure Apple Devices For FinTechs

One of the answers to this is for FinTech to invest in the right protective and preventative technologies. Looking first at the question of secure hardware, Apple is a natural choice for this industry.

Apple has long had a reputation for secure products with far fewer hacks than competitors. The new M1 chip range is meant to be particularly secure.

However, despite the high standard of in-built security in the latest Macs, for FinTech this still may not go far enough to protect such sensitive assets from dark elements.

A two-pronged approach is best. Combining secure hardware with additional security software measures.

 

Greater Cybersecurity For FinTechs With Hardsoft

Hardsoft has worked alongside numerous FinTechs to gather an in-depth understanding of the unique challenges they face from cybersecurity threats.

As partners of hardware manufacturers like Apple and cybersecurity software developers like Sophos, Semantic DLP and Jamf Protect, we can provide the additional security that FinTechs require to guard against cybersecurity breaches of their technology, apps, and confidential data.

As part of the Apple Consultancy Network, and with our own highly trained team of solutions engineers, we can work with FinTechs to address their companies’ specific needs for cybersecurity and develop the perfect system for keeping your data safe.

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