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BizReport : Internet : March 26, 2020

Reports: Unemployment, ecommerce, phishing spiking due to COVID-19

Several early reports are out, warning of big changes to life in the US over the next few months because of the global pandemic, Coronavirus. According to researchers at Ball State, COVID-19 is likely to send unemployment skyrocketing to at least 14% throughout the country.

by Kristina Knight

This kind of increase in unemployment could cost the US government about $7 trillion.

"These are likely very conservative estimates, yet it argues that job losses in March, April, May and June may be the four largest in US history, topping the 1.9 million jobs lost in the weeks following V-J Day in September 1945," said Michael Hicks, Ball State economist and co-author of the What Will the Next Three Months Look like? Stimulating the Impact of Social Distancing on GDP and Employment report out from the university. "This level of job losses does not consider the effect of school closures on labor supply by households. This study does not assess the impact of supply chain disruptions on manufacturing, nor does it include the extreme shock to household wealth caused by stock market declines."

Already being seen across the US is an increase in ecommerce and that is pushing more retailers to put ad dollars into the digital space. According to data out from MediaRadar, COVID-19 has sent ecommerce advertising soaring, up from $4.8 million to $9.6 million between February and March of this year.

"If you're following the news, you most likely believe that people are holed up in their homes, hoarding, "hunkering down" for the apocalypse and not spending their disposable income," said Todd Krizelman, Co-Founder and CEO of MediaRadar. "Amazon is fully aware that many Americans will be spending much more of their disposable income online in the coming weeks. And, according to our data, it's clear that the rest of the eCommerce market knows it too."

The virus isn't only sending consumers online to shop for disinfectant and N95 masks, though. Many are also turning to the web for the latest information about the spread of the disease and how their local and state governments as well as the national government are handling the outbreak.

According to data out from Amobee content consumption surrounding the Coronavirus is up about 40%.

However, all of the traffic and increased interest in the response to and protection from the Coronavirus is also pulling fraudsters online. According to Barracuda Networks there has been a big increase in spear phishing attacks as fraudsters and other black hats use COVID-19 to target consumers.

Between March 1 and March 23, Barracuda found nearly 500,000 spear-phishing attacks and nearly 10,000 attacks using COVID-19 as a weapon. In February only about 1,000 attacks used the pandemic to try to gain access to consumers' information. These attacks are being used to steal consumers credentials, gain access to financial information, and to distribute malware.

Their data shows that fraudsters are using brand impersonation and compromised business emails for these attacks.

Because of the sharp uptick in these attacks, Barracuda recommends consumers be wary of emails asking them to open attachments, donate directly to charities rather than clicking on email links, and to use caution when communicating even with brands that are interacted with regularly to protect personal and financial information.

More data from Barracuda's report can be found here.

Tags: advertising, Amobee, Barracuda, Coronavirus, COVID-19, ecommerce, MediaRadar, online traffic, phishing attacks, phishing trends, traffic sources

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