Michael Di Marco, B.Comm., CIP

COVID-19: When Telecommuting Becomes a Window of Opportunity for Hackers

Even though it has always been important, cyber-risk coverage has become all the more essential for businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Certain unusual factors (increased telecommuting and limited resources) are making your business more susceptible to hackers than ever before. That is why it is important to consider cyber-risk coverage to ensure the survival of your business.


To prevent the spread of the virus, your employees have been strongly encouraged to telecommute. Businesses are thus more susceptible to cyber attacks, since the security of remote connections has not necessarily been tested or adapted to large-scale telecommuting.

To support the security of your networks and devices, experts recommend that multi-factor authentication be set up as quickly as possible on all of the devices used by the members of your team. According to the insurer CFC’s claims team, in 2019, nearly 80% of the ransomware attacks involved in its claims were initiated through remote desktop protocol.


Although you implemented all of the possible tools to prevent cyber attacks, hackers also rely on human error.

Not surprisingly, hackers are now using COVID-19 and the uncertainty of the current situation to get people to click on fraudulent links to “obtain important information” about the crisis. This, of course, results in the accidental download of ransomware or malware onto the computer systems of your business.

If you purchase cyber-risk coverage, it will be possible to have access to resources and training tools to educate your team about various phishing tactics.


Contrary to popular belief, it is not always major industry players that fall prey to hackers. As they have less information technology resources, SMEs are often the targets of cyber attacks.


Another common myth is that the reason behind cyber attacks is frequently the theft of personal data. It is wrong to believe this, however, since hackers often target people for fraudulent money transfers or to damage computer systems. In fact, more than 50% of claims are unrelated to breaches of privacy.


Property and civil liability insurance policies do not cover all of the factors mentioned above, which is why it is important to purchase additional cyber-risk coverage. Not only is it well priced with respect to its value, but cyber-risk coverage can also provide you with access to computer experts and useful tools in the event of cyber attacks, which can help you to quickly get your business back and running.


It’s not just your business that is at risk of cyber-attacks… but you as well! Indeed, Radio-Canada, in its French program La Facture, presented new phishing techniques related to the COVID-19 virus, which directly targeted individuals. From this segment, here are three examples of attacks you could see happening in the coming weeks:

The Red Cross:

Ding! You receive a text message announcing that The Red Cross is distributing masks for all affected families in Canada; all you must do is pay the postal fee (only $5!). By clicking on the link, you are redirected to a page asking for your banking information. Five dollars… It’s not that bad, you say? Make no mistake; it’s your credit card numbers that are interesting!

Public Health Agency of Canada:

Transmitted in the form of an email, this scam invites you to follow a link to learn about the latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Agency is a reliable and credible source of information, you are less tempted to doubt and click on the link without even thinking about it. However, be warned that when you click on this link, your computer becomes infected with a virus.

Federal government:

Be careful, because hackers work quickly. Host François Sanche says that just hours after Justin Trudeau’s announcement about financial compensation, the scammers were already at work. This fraud comes in different formats: by email or text message. In both cases, the individual is required to click on a link to obtain financial compensation and must then complete a long form. Among the many questions being asked, some include your social insurance number, address, date of birth and even account numbers in some cases. Be vigilant, the government will rarely, if ever, write to you via text message or email for an important message like this one.

Contact your Lareau broker at 1-888-527-3281 or let us get in touch with you to learn more about cyber-risk insurance and how it can protect your business.

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Michael Di Marco, B.Comm., CIP Commercial-Lines Principal Director and Associate Partner - Montreal Region
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