“Bad actors” haven’t sheltered in place, it seems.
So found the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, which met with experts this week to hear testimony on fraudulent acts, particularly in cybersecurity and financial schemes. The COVID-19 pandemic apparently has brought even more schemes to light, especially as people have moved online to do business, the committee found.
In fact, according the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the number of cybersecurity complaints has spiked to 4,000 a day from 1,000 complaints a day four months ago. And those four months’ worth of complaints are almost more than reported for all of 2019.
In addition, a May 2020 survey of financial institutions found 80% reported a 238% increase in cyberattacks compared to last year.
“The volume of attacks, as reported by many of the largest [financial institutions], moved across the globe towards the U.S. in line with the movement of the virus and continued to ebb and flow with the undulations of the COVID-19 news cycle,” according to the committee’s majority staff report.
Bad actors are taking advantage of the unusually large numbers of employees working remotely and “lax telework security practices,” the staff report found, which include weak passwords on home computers, poorly secured home Wi-Fi routers and family linking internet-connected devices. Malware, ransomware, man-in-the-middle attacks (cyber eavesdropping), phishing, business email compromise and cyber-supported fraud schemes continue to be ways these bad actors are attacking both home and business networks.
The committee also found that during the pandemic, cybercriminals have “modified” traditional scams to cash in on COVID-19 fears.
These scams are more likely to target senior citizens, lower-income communities and those who have been laid off or furloughed, the report found.