What will be left after COVID-19? Zoom and cyber-attacks!

The end of the global COVID-19 pandemic is still far away. Nevertheless, the vaccine rollout in Israel and across the globe is in full swing. We’re all hoping that everyone will be vaccinated in a timely manner and that COVID-19 will soon only be a memory. One day, we’ll find ourselves congregating in public areas without masks as we slowly return to our normal routines. Apart from lockdown jokes and stressful memories of incessant video calls in our cramped bedroom with our kids jumping in the background, what will remain in the post-COVID-19 era?

Although lockdowns have now become a regular part of our lives, we’re all still eagerly waiting to return to our regular routines. Thanks to the vaccine, this may happen sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, however, countless people worldwide have seen their livelihoods and sources of income shrink or even evaporate as a result of lockdowns and quarantines. Even law-abiding citizens have been forced to work under the table in creative ways to supplement their income.

Yet, it wasn’t only ordinary people who were harmed. Let’s not forget about criminals. Think about what happened during the lockdowns. Stories of criminals breaking into homes or stealing cars have almost completely disappeared. Since most people are stuck at home all day, it has become pretty difficult to surreptitiously sneak into a stranger’s home. Stealing a car is no easier. Roads are empty and there are police checkpoints on major highways and junction points. It’s easy to locate a stolen vehicle on a deserted road.

Zoom is here to stay!

Before COVID-19, whenever we wanted to talk with someone, we just called them on the phone or met up in person. Video calls weren’t that common and were reserved for important conference calls at work or chatting with relatives and friends abroad. Moreover, video calling technology used to be much more complicated, requiring an understanding of the technology and the ability to tinker with it if any problems arose. Today, video calling is accessible and easy-to-use. In the past, if you invited someone to a video call, instead of a telephone call, it was less accepted and even considered strange. Today, however, this form of chatting is acceptable and understandable.

There is no doubt that our preferred way to meet up is in person, especially after a series of lockdowns. However, if this is not possible, as it may be difficult to meet physically because of scheduling constraints, the meeting can always be redirected to Zoom. We’ve become used to video calling and have discovered how easy it is to use. Although it will never replace physical interactions, it will be a replacement for almost everything that we used to do via phone calls. Video calls will also serve as a replacement for physical encounters that are difficult to organize.  In the long term, video conferencing will remain another communication channel, and another means to facilitate human interaction, albeit with greater involvement than a phone call since face-to-face “contact” is possible.

Easy money and zero risk

The substantial increase in cybercrime and attacks will be here to stay in the post-COVID-19 era as well. Let’s not forget that, due to the outbreak, the livelihoods of criminals were significantly damaged. Since most people are stuck at home all day, it’s become pretty difficult to surreptitiously sneak into a stranger’s home. Stealing a car is no easier. Roads are empty and there are police checkpoints on major highways and junction points. It’s easy to locate a stolen vehicle on a deserted road. Criminals are also sitting at home, with debts to pay and children to feed. They’ve had to find new ways of making money and have also adopted the remote, work-from-home model. There’s no debate – it’s easier to steal peoples’ “wallets” digitally without ever leaving home. Criminals have studied the methods and have even hired the necessary tools and experienced hackers, finding a new and lucrative revenue stream without putting in too much effort.

They’ve also discovered that cybercrime is less dangerous. It’s certainly a greater physical risk to commit armed robbery at a bank than to steal money over the Internet. The punishment may also be less severe. Although extenuating circumstances forced them to make a “career turn” and enter the world of cybercrime, these criminals have found it very easy to conceal this type of crime. Law enforcement is finding it difficult to identify hackers and arrest them at their place of residence, especially since the majority of hackers operate in countries other than those in which they reside. It takes a lot of work and effort for law enforcement to prove that an attack that took place in the United Kingdom was committed by a hacker from Russia. It is difficult to identify the hacker with certainty, prove that they were behind the attack, and then bring them to trial. What could be easier than sitting on your sofa while launching ransomware attacks in foreign nations, while simultaneously raking in the dough and disappearing from the authorities?

Just like ordinary citizens, criminals miss the physical routine of outdoor activities. They too will eventually return to the physical world of crime, each in their own specialized field. When the world returns to normal, crime will also return to its routine physical aspects. However, the cybercrime arena will supplement it, as another available option for an efficient source of income. Furthermore, criminals have definitely increased their “target audience” or rather “expanded their market”. In the past, they only operated in places they could reach physically. Today, however, they can pursue their criminal activities in any corner of the globe. 

Although Zoom is here to stay, the extent of its use will likely decrease. It will become another social media tool used to connect with others. The cyber-attacks that took place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic will only grow in scope since these criminals now have come to understand the financial advantages of cybercrime. It’s clear that we have no choice but to adapt to this new reality.

Lior Frenkel
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