Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series featuring an interview with Chad White, Director Corporate Security, Medavie Blue Cross, on how fraudsters and cybercriminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to prey on vulnerable Canadians. In this Q&A, Chad shares the top risks we face in our current cyber environment and how we can limit them.
Q. Why is cybercrime on the rise?
A. We live in a hyper-connected world. Everyone has either a smart phone or smart watch and increasingly the household items we use everyday, from our lights to our refrigerator, are connected to our home networks. This puts us at greater risk of a cyber attack, a type of crime no one is truly safe from.
Cybercriminals, being opportunists by nature, are exploiting weaknesses in home networks, which are often less protected, to infiltrate commercial networks and swipe private data, steal identifies or demand ransom.
Q. How has the pandemic impacted cybercrime?
A. When the pandemic sent employees home to work remotely in early 2020, organizations were suddenly doing business outside the secure walls of their normal operations.
As a result, the pandemic has taken cybercrime to a new level. The criminal element, always looking for ways to exploit a crisis, has taken advantage of the vulnerabilities — and anxieties — the pandemic has created.
From bogus fundraising efforts to fake COVID-19 testing kits, fraudsters and cybercriminals were quick to adapt their methods and find new ways scam, hack and defraud us.
Within months of the pandemic, some security companies were reporting cybersecurity threats at 600 to 800 times the pre-pandemic level.
Q. How has cybercrime impacted the health care and health insurance?
A. These sectors, which include health clinics, insurers and pharmacies, are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime because of the type of information they hold.
The average value of a personal medical record, which contains patients’ home addresses, birthdates and social insurance numbers, is 10 times greater than any other type of records on the market.
In fact, it’s the most valuable record in the world for fraudsters, hackers and scammers. They can use this information to gain access to bank accounts or credit cards and cheat us out of our money.
If it were a country, cybercrime would have the 13th largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on the planet.
Q. How can we protect ourselves against cyber threats and attacks?
A. There are several ways we can minimize our risk of cybercrime.
- Make sure that every device you use has a firewall or antivirus.
- Never share the name of your personal network.
- Use long passwords with some complexity, such as a sentence, instead of a single complex word.
Ask yourself these questions when you receive a suspicious email:
- Do I know this person?
- Was I expecting this communication?
- Is this an unusual request?
Q. How does Medavie Blue Cross view cybercrime?
A. As the manager of health benefits for 1 in 12 Canadians, and steward of their health information, we are committed to protecting to the integrity and sustainability of member plans.
We do this through our comprehensive fraud mitigation and cybersecurity programs.
Our programs employ state-of-the-art capabilities to monitor, prevent, detect, enforce and resolve any attempts to defraud benefit plans or breach client data ― with strict controls and process in place, at all levels of our organization.
Q. What is Medavie Blue Cross doing to prevent cybercrime, now and in the future?
A. The cybersecurity landscape and associated threats are constantly evolving, meaning we need to constantly enhance our security controls to protect both the organization and our valued customers. These controls monitor and detect the movement of sensitive personal and health information.
Maintaining the availability and security of our systems is paramount and we continue to invest heavily in enhancements to technology and training as new threats and safeguards emerge.