09 Mar COVID-19 Poses New Cybersecurity Risks
You know the old saying: A global health crisis is one person’s trash, while it provides a treasure for bad actors looking to exploit the vulnerable.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, with roughly 150,000 cases globally and nearly 250 in the U.S. (as of today), world governments and local municipalities alike are planning and responding to outbreaks as quickly and effectively as possible (Johns Hopkins COVID-19 page is one of the best sources for getting accurate info and staying up to speed on the virus).
But another outbreak lurks behind our devices and screens as cyberthreats increase right alongside increased cases of the coronavirus. Why? Because a hacker’s best “in” is a vulnerable population, eager and panicked for any source of news or information that may help them avoid infection. In fact, email scams with the word “Coronavirus” as bait are already starting to pop up. What’s more, many companies are asking that employees work from home to avoid infection, and oftentimes home computers don’t have the same level of cybersecurity as business devices.
So what are several things you can do to stay safe both at work and at home?
- This may seem obvious, but before you open an email touting to have updates on the coronavirus, check to make sure you recognize the email address it’s coming from; and in fact, we’d recommend just deleting any emails from unfamiliar sources.
- As standard practice, don’t open attachments that are coming from an unfamiliar place or an unknown sender and be especially on alert if they have anything to do with COVID-19.
- Scams to “raise money” for those suffering from the coronavirus may also start to pop up. Be wary of any emails or phone calls asking you for donations, even if they seem legit. Always call the number and verify the website.
- As organizations make the decision for employees to work from home, if you are working from your personal computer, make sure that you have end-point protection installed (i.e. anti-virus/malware software) and make sure that it is up-to-date. Hopefully your employer will provide this for you, or reimburse you for the associated expense.
- If working from your personal PC, it is also extremely important that your Operating System updates have been applied. While you might think those are for additional features, all updates contain security patches.
- If searching for protective gear related to COVID-19, be wary of merchants that are price gauging. Make sure you are paying a reasonable price for what you are purchasing.
- Last, the security protections that your organization has in place at the office are likely far superior than the protections you have at home. Be extra diligent with your use of technology when working from home. Remember, mobile devices are susceptible to attack as well.