Cybersecurity In The Time Of Coronavirus by Jessica Bennett

When the year began, none of us imagined that in just under three months our lives would change so drastically. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, life as we knew it has changed entirely. And it is affecting many different aspects of life. However, here we are only going to be talking about the kind of havoc the pandemic has on cybersecurity. 

The matter of cybersecurity is a delicate one, with new malware and threats endangering the security of websites on a daily basis. With the changes brought on in our lives by the Coronavirus threat, the cybersecurity sector is also seeing the rise of new types of threats against businesses and individuals. 

 Coronavirus Threats: What Should We Prepare For?

Thanks to the social distancing and quarantine measures taken across the world, most of us are working from home. This increases the risk of business data and threatens the integrity of the business. Every home PC, laptop and mobile device that is being used to access company data is not as secure as the company devices. As a result, hackers have an easier entry point to the company database, and they can easily manipulate the database from there. 

Added to this, there is also another threat that is using the global pandemic fear to manipulate the users. The scam emails and messages with the links are being circulated among users disguised as emails and messages from organizations such as WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The moment the users click on the links provided on these mails, malicious software is downloaded into the system.

Both types of threats are exploiting a pandemic situation and panic about it. In addition to all these, there are now Coronavirus themed malware designed to clear out the entire system. According to the source, these malware are designed to destroy rather than act as ransomware. All in all, this Coronavirus situation has proven to be harmful not only for our health, but the cyber world as well. 

COVID-19: The Work from Home Threat

The firewalls and protective protocols used for a home internet system are adequate for personal use. However, these personal web access points are not equipped with the proper safety tools to support the huge demands of a work from home operation. 

A company’s access points on the other hand are equipped with multiple safety measurements to reduce the chances of cyber attacks and make the company data secure. But when these data are being accessed from the home networks on a daily basis for at least a three week time period, the danger becomes very real. 

Every vulnerable device used to access the data can be considered as a point of entry for the hackers. This increases the chances of attack on the database. The main reason why this kind of cyber threat has become a focal point is the time crunch. Usually, companies require months or years to analyze, develop, test and deploy solutions for such cyber risks. However, this time around, they only had a few days warning before they all had to go into quarantine. 

With the world economy already in danger, these kinds of data breaches can prove to be fatal. And that’s why it is necessary that both the company and employees working from home take some extra precautions while accessing the company data from their home system.

  • Analyzing The Security Vulnerabilities

Analyzing the security instability beforehand is necessary for any company. This way, they have a better chance of understanding the weak points and can take precautionary steps. 

  • Drawing Up A Detailed Security Protocol

A precise security protocol for working from home needs to exist whether there is urgency or not. This is the document workers would refer to when they are facing any kind of confusion regarding enhancement of security. 

  • Using Only Updated Software On The System

This one is for the employees. 

It is imperative to use the latest versions of the apps when working from home. These revised versions come with proper security patches and help secure the databases against online attacks. So before you start working from home, install the latest version of your system. 

  • Securing The Home Network Access Point

The main difference between a home network and an office network is the level of online safety. It is crucial that the access points of the home network are secured and that no one else can hack it. This way, employees can reduce the chances of anyone else snooping around in their files. 

  • Using VPN

Using a virtual private network can help users increase security levels when working from home. Corporate VPNs will protect the users from phishing and malware attacks better than anything else. 

If we consider it, we would understand that companies are a lot better equipped to handle a data breach, if it happens. But what happens when an individual is manipulated because of their panic and fear?

The Panic Manipulation: Threats Faced By Individuals

If the fear and panic over the global pandemic was not enough, now there is a new cybersecurity threat aimed at those who are trying to stay safe during this trying time. 

Using the very basic method of scam emails, hackers are sending emails with malicious links camouflaged as emails from credible sources such as WHO and CDC. The moment users click on this link, malicious software is installed on the system ready to harm it. 

These phishing emails are succeeding for only one reason, and that is - the global panic. People want to find out all they can about this disease and how to save themselves from it. And that’s why people are clicking on the links that promise to provide them information on that. This is nothing but a sadistic manipulation of the users and their emotions. 

But is there any way of preventing these attacks? 

  • Be Extra Careful About Opening Links From Emails

The scary part about these phishing attacks is the fact that more often than not these emails look legitimate. For an inexperienced user, figuring out the character of any email is a pretty tough job. And that’s why the users should be wary of any email that provides them with a direct link or CTA button to another process. In this case, rather than clicking on the link provided on the email, the users should type the name of the website on the search engine and check it out to see what the matter is about.

  • Get Your Coronavirus Information Straight From The Websites

We have already mentioned before that the users are going to receive many emails telling them to download a file or visit a website from the mail to get the latest information on the Coronavirus situation. The best a user can do in this case is to get their information straight from the source, rather than an email.

  • Learn The Signs Of A Phishing Email

It is not about becoming an expert on phishing scams. But learning all the signs of phishing scams on a primary scale can really benefit the users and help them  be safe online during this pandemic age. 

  • Do Not Reveal Any Personal Data

Even if the user has accidentally landed on the phishing website, they don’t have to give any type of personal information such as email, physical address, financial information, etc. This way the personal information will stay safe even if you click on the link accidentally. 

Wrapping Up

Even though it is a major healthcare problem, the COVID-19 crisis has proven to be catastrophic in almost all areas of human life. There are some companies that are working on solutions to solve these security breaches. Hopefully these solutions will begin the effect before any type of big data breach takes place.


About the Author:

Jessica is an individual contributor for various leading publications. Writing about technology, design and the latest innovations is her primary knack. She also works for Unified Infotech, a technology service provider serving startups and enterprises. While not writing, Jessica can be found chilling with her martini.

Image Courtesy: https://www.helpnetsecurity.com/2020/03/18/healthcare-cybersecurity-coronavirus/

Reference:

https://www.govtech.com/blogs/lohrmann-on-cybersecurity/how-is-covid-19-creating-data-breaches.html

https://www.newelectronics.co.uk/electronics-blogs/covid-19-cyber-security-threat-to-impact-businesses/225701/

https://ciso.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/cybercriminals-exploiting-public-fear-of-rising-covid-19/74621845

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/covid-19-cyberattacks-working-from-home/

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams

https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-online-scams-how-to-protect-against-phishing-scams.html

April 15, 2020
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Jenny Astor
Jenny Astor
2 months ago

Thanks, Jessica, Such a great information

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