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Enhancing security in the cyber realm post-Covid pandemic | #cybercrime | #computerhacker

THE Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on all facets of our life, including the state of the digital world. To maintain their safety, people had to get used to new modes of working, studying, communicating and using services online. Cybercriminals, however, grabbed the chance to exploit weaknesses along with these changes, which resulted in a rise in cybercrime.

The 2020 Internet Crime Report estimates that losses from cybercrime exceeded US$4.2 billion (Ruposky, 2022; FBI, 2021). Phishing and extortion were the two main types of cybercrime. Unfortunately, considering how drastically the epidemic has altered daily life, cybersecurity safeguards are the main concerns nowadays.

Denmark, the US, Finland, South Korea and the UK are the top five countries identified as the most cyber-secure countries in the world. The data retrieved from the National Cyber Power Index from Harvard University rates those nations according to their digital capabilities, taking into account things like infrastructure investment, online rules, international cyber agreements, and e-governance. This analysis not only helps decision makers understand what other strong countries are doing, but it also helps them develop their own approaches to internet-related issues.

The National Cyber Power Index is an effective instrument that ranks the most dominant nations in cyberspace and provides experts with information on how well each nation’s cyber operations are performing.

According to research conducted in the US, for instance, internet usage rose by 17% during the epidemic (Muncaster, 2020). Additionally, in just one month, the number of online visits to tutoring platforms increased by 400%, with major increases in the fields of politics (320%), television (210%), and horticulture (200%) (Naidoo, 2020).

If companies did not proactively plan for and take precautions against prospective cyberattacks, they ran a higher risk of experiencing operational and financial failures.

This article examines the effects of Covid-19 on cybersecurity and offers methods to improve online security and privacy that are supported by empirical data.

Our digital environment was affected by the pandemic in ways that went beyond what was immediately visible. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2021 stressed the need for strengthened cybersecurity measures in less developed countries to effectively combat the escalating cyber threats, despite the fact that people in developed nations like Australia perceived to have greater awareness of cybercrime and cybersecurity compared to people in developing countries like Malaysia.

However, surprisingly, pre-pandemic records from the cybercrime statistics reported by Department of Statistics Malaysia and the Australian Cyber Security Centre show that Australia had higher rates of cybercrime than Malaysia with more than 58,000 cases (A$634 million) for Australia and less than 11,000 cases (RM539 million) in 2019.

However, compared to Malaysia, Australia saw a proportionally larger rise in cybercrime assaults during the pandemic in 2021 with 67,500 cases (A$33 billion) for Australia and 20,805 cases (RM560 million) for Malaysia. It is interesting to note that there was little difference in cybersecurity performance between the two nations; in fact, Malaysia outperformed Australia in the cybersecurity performance index (Malaysia at 5th and Australia at 12th) according to Global Cybersecurity Index (2021) by ITU.

These results imply that developing nations are better equipped than developed nations to reduce the risk of cybercrime and implement cybersecurity measures. The presumptive effective solutions of fintech and digitalisation against cybercrime may not be sufficient without considerable investments in knowledge and competency programmes to enhance cybersecurity awareness throughout the public.

In conclusion, the Covid-19 pandemic sparked a rapid revolution in many spheres of life, including the digital space. Cybercriminals then benefitted from the rise in online activity brought on by the development of remote work, online learning, and virtual communication. However, there has not been much improvement in cybersecurity measures. Developed and underdeveloped nations, however, have competitive development in cybercrime awareness and cybersecurity performance. Protecting against cyberattacks remains of the utmost importance as the digital landscape changes constantly. Thus, collaborations from all stakeholders are vital to protect the digital realm.

This article is contributed by Dr Ainul Huda Jamil, UKM-Graduate School of Business.


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