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In a previous blog about what COVID-19 means for businesses’ data, I pointed out several risks that companies will face as they’re forced to shift suddenly to remote working. One of those risks, which few businesses had time to prepare for during the sudden transition, was the reality that employees are more likely to make mistakes with company data during such a disruptive and concerning time. As a result, I noted, employees would be more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Phishing attacks jumped almost 700% since coronavirus lockdowns

That worry has proven well-founded. Research reported in TechRepublic found phishing attacks skyrocketed 667% in March 2020, the month that cities and states across the country began issuing shutdown orders for businesses. This statistic tells us a few things:

Employees are in unfamiliar territory—literally

Many employees are new to working from home, and they’re under increased stress—about the pandemic, about their family’s well-being, about their finances, and about performing their jobs under unfamiliar circumstances. All of these stressors are mental distractions that can make employees more susceptible to a cyber scam that they might not fall for under normal conditions.

Cybercriminals are exploiting this disruption

Hackers are opportunists, and they’re using COVID-19 as an opportunity to take advantage of people’s fear and confusion. For these bad actors, the fundamental incentives of cybercrime remain the same. Businesses desperate to retrieve their data will pay a ransomware attacker to decrypt it for them. A disgruntled former employee will take satisfaction in infecting the company’s network with malware and destroy its most valuable digital assets. What’s changed is that the pandemic has made employees distracted enough that they’re more likely to unwittingly enable attacks like these.

You need to prepare your company to deal with these threats

Given that your company’s digital infrastructure is more decentralized than it’s ever been—and that you probably didn’t have adequate time to get ready for this transition—you need to prepare right now to deal with these threats. Your business’s data, applications, systems, and networks could depend on it. Your preparation should take a couple of different forms.

First, you’ll want to train your staff to be vigilant against phishing and other types of cybercrimes. You might have already conducted this type of employee training—but remember, that was under normal conditions. We are now in very abnormal times. Your employees almost certainly have concerns right now other than the need to be alert to hackers trying to steal or corrupt company data.

Be ready for any data disaster

The second phase of your disaster preparedness: Implement the right cloud backup and DR solution to make sure that you can reliably and immediately retrieve your company’s data if the worst happens. For years, OffsiteDataSync has been providing just this type of service—and peace of mind—for thousands of businesses. We’re also the North American “Partner of the Year” for Veeam, the world’s #1 cloud data management company. 

As the 667% jump in phishing attacks should make clear, cybercriminals aren’t taking time off for the pandemic. In fact, they’re increasing their efforts. Your company needs to do the same. Don’t wait another day to protect your critical business data.