With social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and self-quarantining, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in the number of people who are working from home or working remotely. Unfortunately, that rise has also meant a rise in cybercriminals.
These cyber threats take advantage of coronavirus fears by using online scams to steal personal and financial information. These scams can be sent through email, text messages, or social media posts and they often claim to provide coronavirus awareness, sell antivirus software, and can even ask for donations to a charity.
In general, the best advice to stay secure—even amidst the recent push by cybercriminals—is to be skeptical and careful. Pay close attention to URLs, keep your browser and computer up to date in terms of software, and always verify the source. But beyond the call to remain ever vigilant, here are a few specific tips to keep you safe:
- Do not disclose personal or financial information via email, and do not respond to emails that solicit this information.
- Pay attention to the website’s URL. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain. Remember to never click on unknown links from unverified email sources.
- If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Contact the company using information provided on your account statements or the official website—rather than information provided in a questionable email.
- Stay up to date with the common scams, so you can avoid them. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides helpful information related to the coronavirus that is aimed at keeping consumers protected.
- Keep a clean machine. Keep all software on internet-connected devices—including PCs, smartphones, and tablets—up to date to reduce risk of infection from malware.
- Connect to a secure network and use a company-issued Virtual Private Network to access any work accounts. Your home routers should be updated to the most current software and secured with a lengthy, unique passphrase. Employees should not be connecting to public WiFi to access work accounts unless using a VPN.
- Separate your network so that your company devices are on their own WiFi network, and your personal devices are on a different one.
- Keep devices with you at all times or stored in a secure location when not in use, and set an auto-log-out just in case you walk away from your computer without remembering to lock it.
- Limit access to the device you use for work. Only the approved user should use the device—which means family and friends should never use your work-issued devices.
As we adapt and react to the changing situations, it’s important to be intentional about your device and internet security. Remember: being skeptical and careful is your first line of defense against any nefarious cybercriminals!
The information and recommendations within this article were provided by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) via their site staysafeonline.org.