Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the FBI has seen a sharp increase in cyber crimes reported to its Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
 
Tonya Ugoretz, the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, said that the IC3 is receiving between 3,000 and 4,000 cybersecurity complaints daily - a spike from pre-COVID numbers of around 1,000.
 
She said many hackers are from outside the U.S., and are looking to take advantage of the "rapid shift to telework" taking place currently. The shift has left many companies and organizations vulnerable.
 
Most attacks seem to be on hospitals and medical centers, but all industries could be at risk.
 
British architecture firm Zaha Hadid was a recent victim. The hacker used ransomware to encrypt all the data on one of the firm's servers, and then demanded money to release it. The company said it refused to pay and is instead working with specialists and the authorities. 
 
Strong passwords, two-factor authentication software, and regularly updating operating systems are effective safeguards.
 
We haven't heard about a case involving an American woodworking company since the pandemic started, but we know they are not immune. In February 2019, North Carolina furniture giant Klaussner Home Furnishings was the victim of a targeted cyber attack, which shut down some of the company's operations. Klaussner notified authorities and was able to recover quickly, it said. 
 
In 2017, both Patrick Industries and Mitchell Gold Bob Williams Furniture were hit with email phishing attacks, in which perpetrators successfully convinced lone employees to hand over thousands of employee W2 forms.
 

In our recent survey, in which we polled more than 560 wood professionals about the COVID-19 pandemic, 31.3 percent of respondents said they have ordered some staff to work remotely. 

52.8 percent of respondents reported having changed work procedures. Of those, 41.6 percent have curtailed business travel. More than a third (34.3 percent) have reduced their work hours, and 32.4 percent have reduced or curtailed public hours.

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About half the reporting businesses (50.4 percent) say they have limited face-to-face contact when dealing with outside business people, clients and the public. Nearly as many (49.1 percent) report ordering no face-to-face contact and using only phone and email for communication. A full shutdown of communications was ordered by 7.1 percent of respondents, but that contrasts with 5.5 percent who said they are making no change in communication at all.

 

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