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Report Finds Americans Unconcerned about Rising COVID-19 Cyber Risks

Despite a 400 percent rise in COVID-19-related cyberattacks, Americans remain largely unconcerned about cyber crime, according to a new report from Unisys.

Only 31 percent of Americans surveyed for the 2020 Unisys Security Index said they were concerned about their data security while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall concerns about Internet security have also plunged 13 points in the past year—now ranking the lowest among the four primary areas of security in the survey for the first time since 2010.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has reported more than 52,000 cases of fraud related to COVID-19, and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has noted as many as 4,000 online crime incidents a day during the pandemic. Despite evidence of cyber risks, 70 percent of Americans reported being unconcerned about being scammed during or about the health crisis. Compared to global survey respondents, Americans were 24 percent less likely to report a data breach concern during the pandemic, the report found.

Comparatively, concerns around personal safety jumped 17 percent from Unisys’ 2019 findings.

“It’s not surprising to see people’s level of concern for their personal safety jump in light of the global health crisis. However, the fact that it is not only matched by, but exceeded by, a drop in concerns around hacking, scamming, or online fraud reflects a false sense of consumer security,” said Mat Newfield, Unisys Chief Information Security Officer, in a press release.

So far in 2020, researchers and law enforcement agencies have noted spikes in ransomware activity, fraud attempts, counterfeit products, scams, cyberattacks, and coronavirus-themed schemes, as reported by Security Management in June.

These growing cyber threats are exacerbated by employees’ shift to remote work during the pandemic, according to new IBM research.

During new work-from-home periods, business activities that were once conducted and monitored in offices have transitioned to potentially less secure territory, according to an IBM Security release about its IBM Security Work from Home Survey. Additionally, a lack of guidance, direction, and policies around cybersecurity during remote work has left employees wondering what to do, particularly when they use their personal laptops for work.

The survey found that while 93 percent of survey participants working from home are confident their company can keep personally identifiable information (PII) secure during remote work, 52 percent are using their personal laptops for work, often with no new tools to secure the devices, and 45 percent have not received any new training. Over half of survey participants have not been provided new guidelines on how to protect PII when working from home.