COVID-19 has brought millions of people onto the internet for much longer stretches of time. These new practices and habits on such a large scale is bringing new weak links in the chain that keeps us safe on the internet. Huge amounts of growth of work from home tech, online cloud services, and customer facing networks are starting to open doors for cyberattackers to walk in.
Over the course of just a month in early 2020, phishing and hacking activities were recorded to increase by 37%. The increased susceptibility to cyberattacks has led to an increased amount of COVID-19 related cyberattacks - in March and April 2020, a 30% increase in cyberattacks was recorded compared to pre-COVID-19.
COVID-19 has taught us many things about what could happen if a cyber virus on the same scale of COVID-19 was released. A cyberattack would spread much faster than any biological virus - a cyberattack can spread up to 9 times faster than COVID-19, and lie dormant and unnoticed for months while it spreads far and wide. The impact on the economy of a digital shutdown of just the size of the COVID-19 pandemic could destroy up to 20 million infected devices. Recovering from a widespread digital destruction would be costly and take a massive amount of time to remake infrastructure. Tech companies soon afterwards would start struggling from the massive surge in demand, grinding the economy to a halt as those companies try to meet consumer demands.
Cyberpandemics could be closer than we think and they could leave a bigger impact on the economy than even the COVID-19 pandemic. A cyberpandemic would most likely start by attacking devices through an application or through an operating system. It would also be designed to lie dormant and keep spreading the virus for long periods of time until activated. The consequences of a cyberpandemic would leave a huge and lasting impact on the world. On specific devices, most would experience worse performance, many would remain as dormant spreaders, a smaller amount would lose all data, and a small amount would become completely bricked and inoperable.
Learn more about what a cyberpandemic would do to the economy and what you can do to help protect your devices from such a virus here.