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COVID-19 was the right hook no business saw coming. But while lying on the canvas battered and bruised, circling around them are COVID-19 crooks ready to take a cheap shot, which might just be the fatal blow.
With cashflow already under extreme pressure, crime is the last thing our hardworking business owners should have to deal with right now. In many instances, the tills have stopped running and the bills are mounting. Forking out cash to repair doors or windows that have been smashed in by criminals is simply a headache that businesses can’t afford. With more people working from home during COVID-19, not surprisingly residential break-ins are down.
But alarmingly, commercial break-ins increased by 26 per cent in March compared to the same period last year according to SA Police. But it’s not just the physical doors of a business being broken into. With more businesses transacting online, cybercrime is also on the rise with thieves also looking to force their way in through the digital doors of a business.
In a recent research report in partnership with South Australian Crime Stoppers, businesses told us cybercrime was their biggest concern over the next five years, with 36 per cent of respondents concerned about phishing, 32 per cent about cyber-ransom, with malware and data breaches also at the forefront. And this was pre-COVID-19.
With so many businesses forced to pivot their business operations online as a result of COVID-19, this statistic is undoubtedly set to soar.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre is so concerned about the issue they put out an urgent alert last month following a significant increase in Australians being targeted with COVID-19 themed scams, fraud attempts and deceptive email schemes.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has also been inundated with scam reports warning cybercriminals are adopting sophisticated campaigns within days – sometimes even within hours – of government announcements about relief payments or public health updates. These campaigns prey on people’s desire for information, imitating trusted and well-known organisations or government agencies. Now more than ever it is critical for businesses to keep the bad guys at bay.
This is why Business SA’s next webinar in our business resilience series, we have joined forces with Crime Stoppers, SA Police and the Department for Innovation and Skills to help protect business owners from opportunistic thieves. The free webinar will provide business owners with practical measures to protect their business from physical and cyber threats.
I encourage all business owners to tune into our free webinar.
The Protect Your Business from COVID Criminals webinar is supported by the Department for Innovation and Skills and will be held tomorrow from 5:30pm-6:30pm. Visit www.business-sa.com or phone 8300 0000 to register.
Martin Haese is chief executive of Business SA
Originally published as COVID-19 crooks warning