Editorial: Are you ready for a 2022 cybercrime spree?

A fresh start is on the 2022 horizon for all enterprises, including those bent on proving that crime pays.

High among predictions from pundits in 2021 for business trends that will dominate media coverage in 2022 is the rapid ascent of cybercrime.

Yes, cybersecurity breaches, ransomware campaigns and cyber-extortion gang activities have been in the news during 2021, but they are all set to multiply in the new year as businesses struggle to come to grips with the disruption to workplace operations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The radical rewiring of office systems to accommodate the hybrid workplace has not only redrawn the landscape for employers and employees, but its accompanying chaos and confusion have also opened up a wide range of vulnerabilities in corporate communications and the exchange and storage of sensitive data.

Crime loves chaos.

Consider some recent numbers.

A new Palo Alto Networks study found that the average payout to cybercriminals from Canadian companies victimized by ransomware attacks is now around $450,000. The survey from the global cybersecurity company conducted by Angus Reid also found that 58% of the targets paid a ransom to the cyber-extortionists. The same percentage of victimized companies took more than a month to recover from a ransomware attack. Those percentages represent significant costs and dangers that all businesses need to prepare for as robotics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and the digitization of everything become permanently interwoven into global supply chains, corporate communications and company data banks. These technologies are all now – or will soon be – integral to businesses large and small.

They provide huge potential opportunities for legitimate businesses, but they also present huge potential opportunities for criminals.

Cybersecurity preparation, training and vigilance need to become foundational pieces of corporate culture if legitimate business is to triumph over cybercriminal enterprise in 2022.