By Chris Fordham, Managing Director, Disputes & Investigations Asia, Alvarez & Marsal.

The Economist explains how our vulnerabilities during the pandemic and economic downturn are being exploited by cyber-criminals, as many employees continue to work remotely.

The Economist notes that with the wider deployment of remote connectivity, security software is sometimes being outpaced and larger organisations are increasingly coming under attack from data theft and ransomware.

“Criminal networks have increasingly shifted their targets away from individuals and small businesses to big companies, governments and critical infrastructure. A particularly disruptive tool has been ransomware—hacking data and demanding money for their safe return.”

Depending on the sophistication of such cyber attacks, they can cause significant disruption to business operations and result in considerable financial losses, as well as damage to a company’s reputation. The pandemic seems to be a catalyst accelerating the existing trend of growing cyber-crime.

“Based on pre-pandemic trends, the global economy would have faced at least $5.2trn in losses due to direct and indirect cyber-attacks over the next five years.”

The article suggests that investment in security measures and training of staff will help to combat these cyber-attacks. As cyber-criminals get more creative and better at designing attacks that bypass security checks, the final line of defence falls on the shoulders of employees. Organisations often overlook the fact that human error is the biggest vulnerability in the system, and one wrong click can set forth a chain of destruction. 

Implementing training is important, but more needs to be done to ensure it is effective. Organisations need to invest in keeping up to date with the latest cyber threats in order to keep employees alert to what these new risks may look like.