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IT Professionals see 81% increase in cyber threats since global pandemic

McAfee Enterprise and FireEye today released Cybercrime in a Pandemic World: The Impact of COVID-19 findings, revealing the imminent need for organisations to prioritise and strengthen their cybersecurity architecture. The findings indicated that during the pandemic, over half (57%) of UK organisations experienced increased cyber threats, and 80% of organisations who experiences downtime did so during peak season. As the holiday season approaches, supply chain and logistics and ecommerce and retail industries are among those to see predictable increases in consumer and business activity- making them more vulnerable to cyber threats and leaving businesses, employees and consumers data at risk.

 “It is imperative that all business of scale evaluate and prioritise security technology to keep them protected, especially during peak seasons like the holidays,” said Bryan Palma, CEO of the newly combined company. “Traditional approaches are no longer enough – 94% want their organisation to improve its overall cyber readiness – and businesses need an integrated security architecture and an always on approach to prevent, protect and react to the threats of today.”


Heighted Focus on Key Industries

In addition to increased consumer spending, the holiday season sees a significant impact on industries coping with the increase in consumer demands. 80% of organisations in the UK are anticipating a moderate to substantial increase in demand during the 2021 holiday season. From cars and petrol, to toys and tech, to a limited workforce and lack of services to deliver goods, the “everything shortage” is real. This creates an urgency for organisations to have actionable security plans and to effectively contain and respond to threats.

While many organisations are anticipating an impact on security this holiday season, 75% struggle to maintain a fully staffed security team during the festive period, and a further 73% are expecting at least half of the workforce to be working remotely, heightening organisation’s vulnerability to cyber threats and increasing the need for substantial security measures to be in place.


The UK Supply Chain Crisis

Brexit, the climate emergency and the Covid-19 pandemic have all played a part in majorly disrupting the UK’s supply chain and contributing the supply chain’s biggest challenge of a 12.5% shortage in staff. This has created a ripple effect, and as supplies dwindle, the latest figures from ONS reveal that there’s been a 50% increase in UK store closures due to supply chain issues in Q3.

The loss of manufacturing and logistics capacity and employee-power, paired with increasing demand for goods, has created the perfect attack vector for cybercriminals: a potentially weak and vulnerable infrastructure to break through. Supply chain managers must identify risks, understand the potential downstream effects of a security breach or cyberattack, and prepare response plans so that they can act quickly in the event of an incident.


Ecommerce & Retail

According to Adobe’s 2021 Digital Economy Index, global online spending is expected to increase by 11% in 2021 during the holiday season. However, with store closures and increases in online shopping, along with concerns over product availability from Christmas gifts to seasonal food, and worries about shipping, this industry is faced with more threats than before. According to McAfee Enterprise COVID-19 dashboard, the global retail industry accounts for 5.2% of the total detected cyberthreats. Such threats include compromised payment credentials and cloud storage, as well as other forms of retail fraud and theft.

“While the current climate paints a bleak picture, this should really serve as a reminder to businesses that there’s never been a more important time to ensure their security architecture is robust enough to contain and respond to any emerging threats.” Fabien Rech, EMEA Vice President at McAfee comments. “As we enter into peak holiday season and the goods and services industries face logistical and supply challenges during a time of high demand, organisations need to strengthen their infrastructure and ramp up their security efforts, making it more challenging for cyber criminals to break through”.


What Organisations Need to Know

While IT professionals know cyber threats have intensified, the findings prove that organisations have not effectively prioritised security in the past 18 months since the onset of Covid-19:

  • 57% saw an increase in online/web activity
  • More than 4 in 5 (81%) have experienced an increase in cyber threats since the pandemic
  • A quarter (24%) have had their technology and security budgets reduced
  • 43% have suffered from downtime due to a cyber concern, costing some over $100,000

“Key challenges impacting businesses globally create the perfect catalyst for cybercriminals to capitalise,” continued Palma. “To protect their bottom-line during holiday spikes in activity, now is the time for enterprises and commercial businesses to ensure they’re outfitted with the cybersecurity architecture needed to address the most aggressive and innovative threat.”


Cybercrime in a Pandemic World: The Impact of COVID-19 Survey Methodology:

McAfee commissioned a global independent market research specialist MSI-ACI to undertake the research for this study. Between September and October 2021, the quantitative study was carried out, interviewing 1,451 IT and line of business decision makers. Respondents came from the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, India, Singapore, South Africa and UAE. Respondents had to be an IT business professional, involved in IT security and work for an organisation with more than 500 employees.

Interviews were conducted online using a rigorous multi-level screening process to ensure that only suitable candidates were given the opportunity to participate.

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