Why a spike in crisis-time cybercrime could be good for cybersecurity

Increased pressure and rising spend could see cybersecurity advance amid the current disruption.
17 April 2020

Organizations are responsible for safeguarding consumer data. Source: Unsplash

  • Businesses are facing a spike in cybercrime – security is a key concern
  • Investment in security solutions expected to rise from 2019’s spent of US$103 billion 
  • Advances could be catapulted to transform cybersecurity solutions 

An unpleasant bi-product of the current crisis, cybercrime has been increasing at such an alarming pace that Interpol and Europol have released a report highlighting the rise of pandemic-themed social engineering attacks and the exploitation of teleworking vulnerabilities. 

According to IT security firm Emsisoft, ransomware cases have increased by 41 percent over the last year, with up to 205,280 enterprises falling victim to the attacks and losing access to their hacked files in the process. But in the circumstances, those figures could shoot higher. 

With the ongoing upheaval caused by the pandemic, cybercriminals are seizing the opportunity to feed off the collective anxiety and distractions in order to lure users into downloading malware or handing over payment details. Meanwhile, many businesses are now relying on employees’ private networks to stay connected, making protection much more difficult to achieve. 

While the current cybersecurity situation might see confidence in digitalization – like many other aspects of the business – dip, the current crisis may ultimately work to the benefit of enterprise security which, put through unexpected hardship, could emerge more adaptable and resilient in the years to come.

“Digitalization offers many advantages – but it is important that these systems and thus the people are safe from attacks,” was the simple summary offered by Petr Láhner of TÜV Rheinland on the current situation. 

E-commerce to face more scrutiny 

In a bid to curb the proliferation of the coronavirus, nations worldwide are imposing varying forms of public movement restrictions, whether it’s a partial or full lockdown, a spectrum of daily activities have been disrupted. 

F&B outlets and retailers are some of the most affected. Unsurprisingly, many businesses have taken the opportunity to reinvent themselves by migrating their products and services onto digital platforms and taking advantage of operating online. 

In addition, global supply chains have been derailed and face a spectrum of issues from a near-halt at production lines to stalls at the last mile for deliveries. Retailers are now turning to the digital space for alternative solutions to initiate a cycle of independent supply chain services to fulfill a deluge of stagnant orders. 

Naturally, the move to operate online will call for more stringent measures on cybersecurity and compliance services since consumer-sensitive information like personal details, credit card data, and transaction-related numbers risk being compromised by ill-intended individuals. 

Government-backed policies like GDPR and CCPA are in place to help retailers comply with industry best practices in safeguarding consumer data through a standardized and comprehensive approach. 

With that in mind, retailers of varying sizes are expected to allocate a portion of their budgets to refine existing cybersecurity systems and meet current compliance measures. 

Based on IDC findings, the ongoing rise of cybersecurity investment is set to continue through until the end of 2020. The global market intelligence firm has estimated that up to US$103 billion was spent in security solutions in 2019, a 9.4 percent increase from the previous year, and this pattern is likely to continue. 

Tech-refined cybersecurity systems 

The monetary value injected in enhancing cybersecurity systems also shows how cybersecurity is being prioritized across organizations. In the same vein, businesses are keen on avoiding the repercussions for non-compliance of public policies, which can often result in multi-million dollar fines

The subsequent rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation in the cybersecurity spectrum is set to raise the standard of security and protection within any organization. 

Cybersecurity experts have been trying to understand how the role of automation can free up the valuable time of IT professionals by empowering the workforce to develop and devise counter strategies as a way to combat the bold attacks of bad actors in the cyber world. 

This trend of an increased intervention of AI and automation to boost cybersecurity systems is parallel to the findings of the Global Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity Market, 2019 – 2026.

The report revealed the market for AI in cybersecurity has the potential skyrocket to US$38.2 billion by 2026, making it close to a US$30 billion increase from approximately US$8.8 million in 2019.

Meanwhile, the increased investment in cybersecurity solutions will drive spending in organizations with both large and those with more conservative tech budgets set aside as cybercrime continues to plague enterprises.

It is likely that this gap on how organizations spend on IT security solutions may put pressure on companies with smaller capital to prioritize cybersecurity systems amid economic upheaval. As hackers and bad actors are upskilling their tactics and campaigns to hoodwink organizations and consumers alike, cybersecurity needs to be on par with these fast developments.