COVID-19 Unleashes a Plague of Cybercrime

While many businesses have suffered slowdowns or shutdowns
related to COVID-19, one industry is thriving, to the potential detriment of
others: Cybercrime, including data theft and identity fraud.

It’s essential for companies of every size to shore up their
defenses, and for those who store sensitive customer data to have plans for dealing
with data loss if it occurs. In the event of a data breach, Experian® Reserved
Response can be an indispensable resource for achieving the best possible
outcome, as teams can be drilled proactively to respond to an emergency

The COVID-19 outbreak has emboldened digital criminals, who
are exploiting the chaos and confusion of the crisis by unleashing new waves of
scams and attacks.

The FBI has
warned of a surge in cyber threats and fraud amid the pandemic. As of
April 21, 2020, the Bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center had reviewed more
than 3,600 complaints related to COVID-19 scams, including fraudulent charity
drives and websites advertising phony vaccines and cures 1.

The FBI also
warned of traditional email and text-messages scams that have adopted pandemic
themes, using the outbreak and resultant changes in security procedures as
excuses for having payments or funds transfers rerouted, requesting
“confirmation” submission of passwords and personal information, etc.2

escalation in cybercrime has resulted in at least one high-profile data breach.
In April 2020, a security flaw in the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
website exposed sensitive business account and identity information for nearly
8,000 small businesses.3
The breach came during a flood of applications for loans and assistance related
to COVID-19. Small businesses can be popular targets for cybercriminals,
because they often lack the data security resources found in larger companies.

Heightened levels of criminal activity come as many
companies’ defenses are stretched thin:

  • Many staffs are reduced, with members are
    working from home, subject to reduced hours or even laid off
  • IT and data-security teams may be sidetracked
    from regular duties supporting remote workers
  • Rapid acquisition and deployment of new laptops
    and other devices for employees working from home may lead to incomplete
    testing and unanticipated security vulnerabilities
  • Last but far from least, employees at every
    level of the organization are under great stress coping with the new normal,
    and even the most conscientious may inadvertently let their guard down

The combination of weakened corporate defenses and more
aggressive criminal attacks escalates the ever-present threat of data breach
and underscores the importance of an effective plan for addressing a breach and
managing its aftermath.

The Experian® Reserved Response team can help companies plan
for the possibility or inevitability of a data breach and develop a detailed rapid-response

In the event of a breach, Experian Reserved Response is
the only solution that resolves and responds to data breaches quickly
and efficiently while providing companies infrastructure and personnel as
needed to support and protect employees and customers.

Reserved Response enables companies to respond rapidly and
thoroughly to breaches with services including:

  • Dedicated Resources to manage the rapid build-up
    in volume of customer queries following the public notification
  • Support that includes a dedicated call center
    with US-based agents, a toll-free number, and 7 days a week breach response
  • Infrastructure to respond including sufficient
    phone, web, and application capacity to absorb spike in breach volume on top of
    normal operating volumes
  • Readiness with training for customer-facing
    staff, dedicated account management, guaranteed service-level agreements
    (SLAs), and data breach simulations and live drills to develop a response
    muscle memory

Experian® Reserved Response is the only program that
guarantees SLAs and can have your response plan ready in as little as 3 days.
Other ‘free’ options cannot guarantee this and do not offer dedicated agents
24/7 for your response.

Experian’s Data Breach and Reserved Response teams are
active and fully operational during the COVID-19 crisis, under a business continuity
plan that allows delivery of all services, which are located within the US,
while maintaining the safety and security of all employees.

For more information on the Experian Reserved Response
program, please call 1-844-999-2743 or email [email protected].

Companies experiencing live data breaches should call the Experian Data Breach Hotline at1-866-751-1323 or email [email protected].

1 Department of Justice Announces Disruption of Hundreds of Online COVID-19 Related Scams (Press release), April 22, 2020.

2 FBI Anticipates Rise in Business Email Compromise Schemes Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic (Press release), April 6, 2020.

3 SBA reports data breach in disaster loan application website, The Associated Press, April 21, 2020.

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