Natural disasters, international conflict and inflation are increasing, and many aspects of the economy are in flux. How does this affect cybercriminal activity? This is essential to consider as humans enter the most technologically advanced age in history while balancing many national and global turning points.
Will cybercriminal outfits take this chance to up their game, increasing attacks during a recession? Will people leave old jobs to pursue working in this dangerous industry? Can criminal operations shut down like others do as an unfortunate side effect of economic unrest?
Predicting the Future by Looking to the Past
The last global recession occurred in 2009. Every nation analyzed the trends of cybercrime as apprehensions rose. Larger ones grew concerned as international tensions climbed, and some developing countries saw an opportunity.
The U.K. studied places like Russia, China and Brazil because it was concerned these technologies were reaching parts of the world with high unemployment rates and IT skills. Every country’s government had different systems, and many were unprepared to deal with this new wave of criminal activity.
If law enforcement does not attempt to match cybercrime’s rapid rise in popularity, criminals will continue to get away with their actions.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercrime was up 600% as hackers took advantage of a distracted and even more digitized world. How did they affect things, and how could they impact future global battles?
The Consequences of Cyberattacks in a Recession
The trends demonstrate a correlation — high-pressure national and global events spark interest in cybercriminal activity. Each struggle can pertain to a different industry. Take the medical and science sectors during the pandemic, for example — this event made them relevant targets for cybercrime.
Cyberattacks could prevent even the wealthiest nations from recovering quickly when countries are already financially compromised due to war, trade or natural disaster. The World Economic Forum calls cyberattacks the “under-resourced risk,” citing how a single cloud provider takedown could cost around the same as recovering from Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina — between $50 billion to $120 billion.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, here are the global costs of cyberattacks worsened by a recession:
- Confidential and intellectual property is lost
- Online identity theft and financial fraud increase
- Personal and government money is held for ransom and used manipulatively
- Trust in online activities decreases as internet users understand the risks
- Paying to protect intellectual property and networks skyrockets
- Reputations from individuals, companies, programs and nations are diminished
Though all parties involved may suffer financially because of the recession, it doesn’t mean attackers won’t take advantage of desperation. If a ransomware attack hits a business and compromises its information, It will probably pay to keep afloat. The average ransomware payment was $570,000 in 2021.
The effects of the attack increase the severity of other obstacles that come in a nation’s or company’s way.
Defending Against Future Attacks
Cybercriminals could worsen the effects of a recession, but they could also instigate one. Previous catalysts would be something like a vast company forced into bankruptcy — tomorrow’s could look like hackers disrupting financial payment systems. Thinking of cyberattacks as the cause instead of a byproduct will help companies and nations prepare for the future.
Business owners often scale down during a recession, whether firing employees or decreasing amenities. Some may even forgo excellent security packages for middle-of-the-road models. This thought process is what cybercriminals are banking on during a recession. Understanding the insurance good cybersecurity provides an entity is one of the most significant ways to prepare for the future.
This includes creating safety plans and strategies for cyberattacks and training staff appropriately, even outside of IT departments. It also involves prioritizing backup servers, malware and antivirus software, and other just-in-case measures. These may seem like costly upfront investments, but think of them as a safety blanket that will deliver a peace nothing else can provide.
These tools will prove their usefulness in a recession. On a government and global level, nations can take care to pass legislation to protect against cyberattacks and solidify investigation processes and criminal charges.
Shifting Priorities to the Digital World
A recession brings a long list of issues to any working body, company or country. There is a desire to keep employees and maintain stability to pass as “business as usual.” However, maintaining strong cybersecurity is one of the priorities to keep at the forefront as people move into a technologically dependent future.
Recessions create confidence in cybercriminals, and defenses need to evolve as they do. Everyone who chose cybersecurity as a priority coming out of a recession will become stronger on the other side.