The Covid-19 virus has not only created a global health emergency but has also formed another collateral crisis. Due to the pandemic, more people were confined to their homes and were spending a lot more time on the internet. Most of the daily activities during a pandemic revolve around the internet. Cyber hackers have taken to this as an opportunity and are trapping people in various ways. The issue of cybercrime has been there for years but with the increase of usage of the internet during lockdown and with most activities still being done online, cyber criminals are getting immense opportunities to bully, harass and rob people.
The major reasons behind this spike of cybercrime are the fear of the virus, its disastrous effects and the worldwide lockdown. As per reports, computer generated offense and fraud cases rose by around 43% during the end of 2021 as compared to the pre-covid period (2019).
Computer misuse includes hacking devices, using viruses to break privacy and capture information illegally and bringing disruption to normal activities of any organization. All of these activities have shown a surge of about 85% in 2019-21 as compared to 2018-19. Two billion cases of cybercrime were officially registered all over the world.
During the peak of the pandemic, people all over the world have been desperately sticking to the internet to search for remedies and cure. This gave opportunities to fraudsters to abuse victims through a number of pharmaceutical and healthcare apps. There were even cases of spread of fake links used as clickbait in the name of Covid-19 cure, vaccination availability or free treatment. In many cases, the victim’s bank account was illegally hacked and money withdrawn as soon as they clicked such fake links or opened any false websites. Cases of phishing that include manipulating and fooling individuals to reveal their personal information also spiked since the middle of 2020.
The vaccination crisis was a major challenge during the pandemic. A lot of fake messages and emails were circulated through social media, asking people to respond to them in order to get free vaccination or easy access to it. In such a crisis period, it was natural for common people to believe in such traps. According to a report by Google and analysed by Atlas VPN, Google detected nearly 149 phishing websites in January 2021 which doubled itself from February to March.
Another common scam can be linked to the ‘work from home’ regulations. Most of the working people had to shift their work station from office to home and were using their own laptops and computers that did not have proper protection or official firewalls. Generally, the hackers targeted the individuals by sending a number of unwanted emails with Covid-19 information. These emails were designed in a manner to entice people and as soon as they open such files, their whole system gets hacked. Cases of ‘unauthorized access to personal information’ have registered an abnormal rise of 161% which shows that the cyber criminals are more focused on accessing personal data and making money by selling them. In spite of the spike in cybercrime, it remains till date one of the most under-reported of all crimes.