How to protect yourself from cyberattacks during the coronavirus pandemic

The spread of COVID-19, aka the novel coronavirus, has had a profound impact on businesses and organizations across the globe. In order to help contain the virus, employers are doing their part by encouraging, or even requiring, workers to stay home and work remotely.

If you receive an email that looks like a coronavirus phishing attack, do not respond, click on any links or download any attachments.

With much of the workforce doing their jobs from home, there’s an increased risk of cyberattacks for both individuals and corporations. Cyberattacks are more likely because the average home network has fewer security measures in place than a corporate office environment. And every day, cybercriminals are coming up with new ways to use the coronavirus as part of their strategies to infect computers with malware and steal private information.

Are you doing everything you can to protect your cybersecurity during this global health crisis? Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:

Rely on a virtual private network

By using a virtual private network (VPN) at home, you’ll be making it more difficult for hackers to spy on your activity and collect your personal data. VPNs protect the information that you send and receive on your computer by encrypting it so that it cannot be viewed by outside parties.

When working in your bedroom, kitchen or home office, make sure you’re connected to your own VPN. If you live in an apartment building that offers free public Wi-Fi, don’t use it. You never know who might be snooping on the network, or if it can easily be breached by cybercriminals.

Your job might entail handling other people’s private information or reviewing financial documents. And without a VPN, you could be giving hackers convenient access to such data. This is why it’s best to do all of your remote work on a VPN.

Update your productivity and collaboration software

By working on a computer with older software, you’re putting both yourself and your employer at risk. Outdated programs and applications are more susceptible to cyberattacks since they are built with less advanced security and/or contain known exploits. So if you’ve been consistently ignoring those update notifications from your browser or other applications, now is the time to finally install them. 

Don’t use personal devices for work

If your company provides you with a work laptop, make sure to use that instead of your personal one. Company-issued devices usually come with higher levels of cybersecurity, including stronger firewalls, antivirus software and multi-factor authentication via secure elements and biometrics. If you notice any potential cybersecurity threats on your work computer, like outdated software, be transparent about those concerns with your supervisor.  

Beware of coronavirus-related phishing attacks

It’s no surprise that cyber criminals are using the public fear surrounding COVID-19 to their advantage. After all, it’s easier to trick people into handing over private information or downloading malicious software when they’re in a vulnerable state. In the past few weeks, there have been many email phishing attacks related to coronavirus.

For example, hackers may send emails posing as charitable organizations, requesting donations for hospitals, scientific research or people who have lost their jobs due to the virus. Once you give them your payment information, they’ll use it to steal from you. Remember, as a rule of thumb, you should never provide payment credentials over email or phone.

Another example involves hackers pretending to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The message will say something like, “Click here to see a list of COVID-19 cases in your area” or “Review this PDF for official guidance on preventing the spread of the virus.” These links and attachments, when clicked on or downloaded, could infect your computer with malware.

If you receive an email that looks like a phishing attack, do not respond, click on any links or download any attachments. Instead, delete the email and block the sender.

For more tips on protecting yourself from cyberattacks, visit us at Total Defense today!