Week Ending: 26th March - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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This week has been a poignant week for many as we marked a year since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic – 12 months since many of us were told to work from home and our lives changed. Unsurprisingly, this has monopolised the headlines, including those in the I.T. and tech world.

Covid fraud is currently one of the main cyber concerns, and a topic we’ll cover this week, along with the AI in the workplace and whether a decrease in cybersecurity breach reports could actually mean more hidden attacks.

Let’s get you up to date.

Covid fraud: £34.5m stolen in pandemic scams

Covid fraud is one of the most concerning issues currently facing cyber security professionals. Data released by the City of London Police this week revealed that 6,000 cases of Covid-related fraud and cyber-crime have been recorded by the UK’s police forces during the pandemic.

The report states that £34.5 million has been stolen since March 2020 due to COVID-19 related cyberattacks.

The data also revealed that since the pandemic began 156 criminals, believed to have been committing Covid fraud, have been arrested and more than 2,000 websites, phone numbers and email addresses linked to frauds have been taken down.

Online shopping fraud and romance fraud have been the main areas of increase in the past 12 months according to the police force, and surprisingly computer software fraud has seen a slight decrease. This, the force said, “shows the effect the pandemic has had on the type of fraud criminals commit.”

This increase in COVID-19 related cyberattacks has caused substantial damage to businesses, don’t let your business become victim to covid fraud attacks, get in touch at to arrange a call to discuss how we can help protect your business.

Read more here.

Fewer cybersecurity breaches reported could result in hidden attacks

There has been a recent decrease in businesses identifying and reporting cybersecurity breaches, leading to the assumption that cybercriminals could actually be carrying out hidden attacks.

According to the annual Cyber Security Breaches Survey, the average cost to companies that have been subject to a cyberattack in the past 12 months is estimated to be £8,460, yet only 39% have reported incidents in 2021, a decrease from 46% in the previous year.

Although this number may seem positive, it has hidden concerns. Due to many employees working from home during the pandemic it could mean that companies are less aware of the breaches and attacks their staff are facing. With the fear of losing their jobs, are employees consciously staying in the dark about potential threats?

These concerns around unidentified attacks slipping through the net have been backed by company leaders not ramping up their cyber defences, or upgrading devices remotely, as the pandemic has made it increasingly difficult to do so.

Matt Warman, Digital Infrastructure Minister commented

“The pandemic has taken an unavoidable toll on British businesses, but we cannot let it disrupt our high cyber security standards. With more people working remotely, it is vital firms have the right protections in place, and I urge all organisations to follow the National Cyber Security Centre’s expert guidance so we can build back better and drive a new era of digital growth.”

Phishing attacks remain the most common and have risen from 72% in 2017 to 83% in 2021. Luckily, viruses and other malware have fallen from 33% to 9%. This shows that with employees working remotely they may be more vulnerable to phishing emails as their managers may not be easily contactable to question it.

Staying alert to potential cyberattack threats and keeping on top of security defences could have a huge impact on your business.

Discover more here.

AI at work: Staff “hired and fired by algorithm”

Using artificial intelligence to hire your next staff member may appear to be efficient and save time, however, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned about huge gaps in UK employment law when using artificial intelligence at work.

Using AI in the workplace could lead to workers being hired or fired by algorithm, and the TUC have concerns around needing new legal protections if this is the case. These changes include calling for a legal right to have any ‘high-risk’ decision reviewed by a human. There is a fear amongst the TUC that as AI becomes more sophisticated it will be entrusted with high-risk decisions such as who is next for a promotion or analysing performance metrics.

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary commented

“AI at work could be used to improve productivity and working lives. But it is already being used to make life-changing decisions about people at work - like who gets hired and fired. Without fair rules, the use of AI at work could lead to widespread discrimination and unfair treatment – especially for those in insecure work and the gig economy”

AI has been developing at a rapid speed over the past few years, something that the law has failed to keep up with. The union body is now calling for changes such as the legal right to have a human review decision, protection against discrimination by algorithm and an obligation on employers to consult unions on the use of ‘high risk’ or ‘intrusive’ AI at work.

The use of AI in the workplace isn’t all negative and can be used to benefit the company if used correctly, however if used in the wrong way it can be exceptionally dangerous.

Explore more here.

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