The National Cybersecurity Centre (NCSC) dealt with 723 incidents in 2020 up to the month of August, according to statistics revealed by the authority.
The government body reports that it has helped 1,200 in the first 9 months of 2020, with this figure being the highest to be reported since the organisation was founded in 2016. It believes more than a quarter of these incidents are related directly to the COVID-19 pandemic and have involved the health sector and NHS Trusts.
The report said it’s new ‘suspicious email reporting service’ led to more than 2.3million reports of potential phishing emails being flagged by the public and to 22,000 malicious URLs being taken down that had been linked to coronavirus scams.
One such scam involves setting up a website that claims to be a PPE supplier and attempting to sell into NHS businesses and other healthcare entities in the hope of persuading people to sent money for PPE that ultimately doesn’t exist.
Earlier this year, EasyJet admitted to a huge hack which affected over 9 million of its customers, while Newcastle University and Northumbria University and a selection of colleges in Yorkshire have been targets for ransomware attacks.
Ransomware attacks, where a hacker disables a company’s IT system or steals information and then demands a ransom for its release, have risen dramatically in 2020 – up threefold on 2019.
Liam Whitehurst, Practice Lead for Information Security Recruitment at The Bridge, said:
“While cybercrime is often not seen in the same tangible sense that other crimes are, it is very much a real threat, now, more than ever. In a time when most businesses are struggling, a successful cyberattack could cripple even an established firm, particularly when coupled with an impending GDPR penalty. Improving your business’s cyber security posture may seem to some, like another unwanted cost in an already turbulent time but this stigma needs to be removed, it must be seen as necessary investment – the financial and reputational implications are likely to be far more damaging.”
Jessica Thompson, Account Manager at The Bridge, said:
“With the UK facing a record number of cyber incidents over the last year and with roughly 30% of these if not more being directly related to COVID, it is essential that businesses are prepared. They must invest in their cybersecurity systems and make employees aware of potential threats, particularly as we navigate through the second lockdown.”
Outside of NHS and healthcare organisations, the report highlights than an English Football League club suffered a ‘crippling’ attack on its security systems which stopped all CCTV and turnstiles from working and nearly led to the suspension of the fixture.