Cyberattacks Increase During COVID-19 Crisis

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As businesses contend with staying afloat and others are creating platforms for remote use by employees during the coronavirus pandemic, cybercriminals are adding a layer of anxiety. 

While the virus spreads around the globe, so too are cyberattacks with hackers exploiting overwhelmed systems inundated by people seeking benefits assistance, citizens craving information about coronavirus and supply chains desperate to fill shortages of personal protective equipment. 

Hackers have reportedly targeted the World Health Organization and COVID-19 testing facilities. A cyberattack also caused the shutdown of the Italian social security website in what officials are calling “cruel and disgraceful attacks during a crisis.”  

Cybercrimes have involved the use of malware found in fake domains and hacking remote users exposed due to a lack of firewalls and security measures in home equipment.  

That’s why companies should immediately review their cybersecurity insurance coverage, advises David Thompson, president of the Gibson Insurance Agency in Girard. 

More companies have become aware of the need for cybersecurity in the last couple of years, but industries now have a heightened awareness of the issue with more employees working remotely, adds Dan Landers of Landers-Lewis Insurance Agency & Consulting Service in Boardman. 

“There has been an increase in awareness as companies realize they need protection in place for those using home computers to work,” he says.  

Landers points to attacks on webinars and companies accessing virtual software to conduct staff meetings. 

Thompson says a large corporation he works with recently experienced a ransom attack. He says the company’s system was taken over, locking out company access until a $75,000 ransom was paid.  

According to Thompson, the company had to involve both the FBI and a negotiating entity. He says that firm reported its negotiations rose to 155 claims from 75 in the previous month. 

“Companies also should be careful of requests from vendors wanting to change money-wiring information because that’s happening a lot, “ he says.  

Shelley Taylor, owner of Paige & Byrnes Insurance in Howland, says demand for cyber insurance policies has increased in the last 18 months, and her family-owned business pushes companies to explore various options, especially for renewal of policies.  

Taylor says Allstate is offering free identity protection because shelter-in-place orders require employees to work at home, take classes and visit friends virtually.  

The carrier is making the product free for residents of the United States for the rest of the year with no opt-out requirement, according to Taylor.  

The coverage protects people from identity theft and financial fraud. It provides more control over information shared digitally. And, by signing up in April or May, it is being offered regardless of whether someone is already an Allstate customer.