We are living in uncertain times. Everyone is in survival mode, attempting to adjust to a new normal where working from home is, in many cases, no longer an option. Consumers and businesses are relying on the internet more than ever to communicate during this time of social distancing.

Cybercriminals ready to take full advantage of the mass disruption to the global economy. In fact, according to the United States Secret Service coronavirus-related scams are on the rise. Many security experts predicted a “cyber pandemic” is coming, even before COVID-19. However, the virus could exacerbate a cyber pandemic’s inevitability. How can people and businesses prepare for its arrival?

The Opportunity of Cybercrime

Cybercrime has a low barrier to entry with potentially very high returns. It requires very little technical skill to create simple, but effective phishing attacks or ransomware. Common cybercrime businesses can be run for less than $50 per month, but could “earn” a criminal up to $25,000.

On top of this, opportunity is everywhere. Everything is digital. The increase in work-from-home has seen to this. Employees are no longer covered by corporate security networks; they aren’t using security best practices at home either. Companies’ data, privacy and security are only as good as their employees’ ability to utilize appropriate cyber hygiene, lock down their device security, and their willingness to employ business security policies, software and practices. Add it all together, and it’s the perfect storm for a cyber pandemic.

The Danger of Complacency

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. FUD is the number one selling tactic for many cybersecurity vendors. The actual issue is the opposite of FUD: complacency. It is inaction that is the greatest problem. When people don’t care, they let their guard down and open the doors.

Cybercriminals won’t wait for the pandemic to end either. They aren’t opposed to kicking people and businesses while they’re down. They know that defenses are low and people are distracted. Malicious domains, ransomware, malware and phishing emails are all on the rise.

There is an answer to complacency.

Education and Action

Education is the one overarching factor that can help. Education can help eradicate vulnerabilities. It is so often listed as a solution because knowledge enables preparedness. Cybercriminals target the unprepared and unaware and thrive when there is no, or poor, protection in place.

Unfortunately, many businesses are overconfident in both their cybersecurity and their employees’ knowledge. Nearly 60% of small-medium business owners believe their business is unlikely to be targeted by cybercriminals, according to a recent research survey commissioned by BullGuard. However, the results revealed that 18.5% of SMB owners suffered from a cyber attack or data breach within the past year.

A solid cybersecurity plan is crucial for every business. This includes using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when connecting to the internet and continually updated endpoint security software that includes anti-phishing capabilities to protect data and prevent security breaches. Education needs to go beyond just IT staff – every employee should be properly trained and educated on cybersecurity practices.

You don’t need to be caught off guard by cybercrime, cyber pandemic or not. Now is the time to get a cohesive cybersecurity plan in place — a little consideration, education and action will go a long way.