It’s official. More business is being conducted online than ever before. According to MarketWatch, in-store Black Friday shopping was down over 52 percent this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the slow foot traffic in stores, online retail sales hit record highs. Before you load up your online shopping carts with your Christmas List this year, cyber crime prevention experts are issuing stark warnings about sophisticated new Internet crimes that could wipe out your bank account and your business as you innocently shop online.
“The sudden shift towards home working and shopping online has created an ideal environment for cyber criminals to wreak havoc on businesses and consumers,” said Antonette Vanasek, Founder, Vanasek Insurance. “The shift to doing business primarily online has been so rapid and comprehensive that even the largest businesses and organizations operate with massive holes in their cyber security.”
These ‘holes’ in business cybersecurity mean your financial information, credit card information, personal identity and other sensitive materials may be at risk.
“Hackers and cyber criminals have become more sophisticated than ever amid the pandemic,” Vanasek said. “To them, the massive shift to web-based business is a total gold rush,” she said.
To help businesses protect themselves and their customers as they pivot operations and grow their businesses online, Vanasek Insurance has developed a proprietary cyber threat risk assessment and insurance protection program that gives peace of mind to business owners and assures customers that it’s safe to conduct business online.
“This is really the most comprehensive business insurance program available on the market today,” Vanasek said. “Traditionally, business insurance only covered brick-and-mortar liabilities, now, businesses are truly shifting into the digital age and so must their protections,” she said.
The sudden shift towards home working in the lockdown has emphasized cyber security’s importance for both individual organizations as well as wider society.
“Most businesses, even the largest corporations are not adequately prepared or insured for a large scale cyber attack that could put thier customers and business information at risk,” Vanasek said. “This should concern you every time you open your wallet to make a purchase online.
“Most people don’t realize the vastness or complexity of cyber scams taking place on the Internet today,” Vanasek continued. “From phishing scams, to disruptionware attacks that can paralyze business operations to ransomware that can actually lock your company out of its own software and servers temporarily or even permanently, the impact of criminal activity online is immeasurable,” she said.
According to Vanasek, a staggering 90% of businesses who suffer a significant cyber attack do not recover their business.
“When an unprotected cyber attack takes place there an overwhelming number of associated risks that can completely flatline a business,” she said. “In most cases, files are disrupted or corrupted, leaving them unusable. In other cases, sensitive information is duplicated and used for nefarious purposes – credit card or social security numbers for example – not only damaging the credibility of the business and creating a PR nightmare for the brand, but also creating a serious legal situation where the company could be liable for improperly safeguarding customer information,” Vanasek said.
“Failing to implement cyber security insurance as businesses shift online is guaranteed risk that could cost you your business,” she said.
Some corporations are taking a proactive approach to protecting consumer information and Vanasek says it’s important to find out how your information is being used and protected when doing business with a company.
“The reality of the situation is that small and medium-sized businesses are most at risk for a serious cyber attack that could seriously endanger customer information and put the business at serious risk,” she said.
“Many independently-owned companies who previously did little to no business online were forced to quickly shift their operations online this year and cyber security and insurance were understandably not the first priority in moving their business online when it should be. Sadly, many businesses will come to understand the serious risks associated with the Internet economy if precautions are not taken to safeguard sensitive information,” she said.
As the pandemic wanes on, businesses will become even more reliant on doing business online. Vanasek says it’s imperative that business owners and consumers thoroughly understand cyber threats and the vulnerabilities they exploit, while changing the way they think about cyber risk so it becomes an intrinsic part of every business decision.
For more information about protecting your business from cyber Grinches and criminals visit www.vanasekcyberpolicy.com or call (888) 780-3285.