Nearly 75% of Financial Institutions in US, UK Reveal there’s an Increase in Cybercrime Following COVID Outbreak: Report

Almost three-quarters or 75% of financial institutions have reported an increase in cybercrime activities since the Covid-19 outbreak (around February 2020), according to a survey released by BAE Systems.

The survey of 902 banking institutions and insurance providers, based in the US and the UK, reveals that this recent rise in cybercrime is also having a significant monetary impact. Over half of the survey respondents reported a considerable increase in financial losses during the past year – the average cost being as high as $720,000 and rising steadily.

BAE Systems’ research and surve report has noted that there are concerns regarding the “new-normal” working from home model, with 42% of survey respondents stating that working remotely has made them less secure than when working in an office environment. Just below half or around 50% also cited concerns about these issues leading to less visibility of potential holes in their computer network or infrastructure and around 37% said their clients are now at greater risk of being a victim of cybercrime or some other fraudulent activities online.

In addition to these serious issues which may get worse, IT security professionals are also dealing with increasing pressure due to lower budgets and team redundancies. BAE Systems’ report further noted that on average, budgets within IT security, cybercrime, fraud and risk departments have been reduced by around 25% while 40% have been forced to reduce their spending for “critical” IT security technology. Over a third or 33% have also reduced the total number of professionals working in IT security during the past year.

BAE also polled more than 2000 consumers on cybercrime and found that over 25% said they’d been sent an email hoax relating to the Coroanvirus pandemic, with 22% also claiming to being a target of text or an SMS that may have been fraudulent. Even when refunded, the average amount of funds reportedly stolen by cybercriminals was $1,174. For people who might not have seen their funds again, the average money lost due to fraudulent activities was $743.

A considerable increase in online shopping during the COVID-19 crisis has also led to a rise in cybercrime, the report noted while adding that over 25% of respondents said they have purhcased something from a fraudulent website in the past year and never received their products.

Over half of the respondents think it’s the responsibility of the banks to protect them, compared with around 40% saying they feel it’s their duty to safeguard their funds. Over half also said banking institutions and credit card providers should look into offering more guidance to clients on how to behave properly online in order to stay safe and avoid losses due to cybercrime.

Adrian Nish, head, cyber, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, stated:

“We’re noticing a clear collaboration emerging between different groups of criminals across the wider landscape of serious and organised crime. Fraudsters and cyber criminals seek to exploit fear, uncertainty and change, and the pandemic has offered them new opportunities to probe for weaknesses they can monetise and new ways to disguise their activity.

Nish added:

“Attackers are building increasingly advanced capabilities to target core banking systems and becoming more aggressive, harming victims’ ability to respond to attacks. Online criminals have reacted fast, adapting their approach to hunt out remote working security gaps and prey on the vulnerable.”

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