SMBs Targeted by Cybercriminals Exploiting COVID-19

July 10, 2020 | Posted in:


As we begin the third quarter of 2020, cybercriminals are continuing to adapt and increase their COVID-19 related attacks. Small to medium-sized businesses (SMB) are being targeted through a variety of malicious tactics. According to FBI Deputy Assistant Director, Tonya Ugoretz, the number of cybercrime reports has quadrupled in the months since the pandemic began. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) was previously fielding 1,000 complaints a day. They are now receiving between 3,000-4,000, with the majority of complaints related to COVID-19 (Source: The Hill.)

Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities due to Covid-19Here is a look at some trends in cybercriminal activity: 

  • There has been a 72% increase in cybercriminals trying to penetrate office networks and steal corporate data. (Source: ABC)
  • Almost half of businesses have suffered a data breach or cybersecurity event as a result of the quick shift to the work-from-home model. (Source: Dark Reading)
  • About 75% of businesses transitioned to remote work, in which 51% have seen an increase in email phishing and social engineering attacks. (Source: Barracuda
  • Of the 51%, 63% experienced a data breach. (Source: Kaspersky)
  • As of July 9, 2020, there have been 64,990 cases of COVID-19 related fraud reports in the US, with more than $80M in lost fraud dollars. These numbers grow on a daily basis. (Source: FTC)
  • The pandemic has lead to a 37% jump in mobile phishing attacks. (Source: TechRepublic)
  • 75% of Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams involve the forgery of an invoice from a business partner. (Source: KnowBe4)
  • About one-third of all data breaches this year will come from devices and applications outside of IT’s control, known as Shadow IT. (Source: Gartner) Remote employees are adopting tools such as cloud storage and online collaboration tools to get work done. Many may be doing so without IT’s knowledge, unknowingly expanding the business’s attack surface.
  • From January to April 2020, there was a 50% increase in cloud use across industries, and threats from external actors targeting cloud services increased 630%. (Source: Mcafee)
  • In 2019, an unprecedented 966 entities were successfully attacked by ransomware, at the cost of $7.5 billion.(Source: EMSIsoft)

These stats and facts make it clear that cybercriminals are taking full advantage of the pandemic. Due to the fast-moving nature of their malicious cybercriminal activity, individuals and SMBs should remain on high alert. Taking proactive steps, using a variety of tools and cybersecurity strategies, will help protect against threats. Here is a list of 10 Cybersecurity Best Practices that individuals and organizations can follow to reduce the risk of being impacted.


If you have any questions about cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities you may have in your organization, please reach out to your Account Manager, or email us at info@systemsengineering.com.