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The Cybersecurity Impacts of COVID-19

March 13, 2020


COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, has obvious physical security implications. But have you considered its effects on your cybersecurity?

It’s no secret that criminals of all stripes are opportunistic. Burglars take advantage of open windows and pickpockets take advantage of crowds. Hackers and other cyber bad actors are no different; they will often take advantage of what’s happening in the news to trick people into sending money, downloading malware, or other nefarious ends.

The outbreak of COVID-19, sometimes referred to as coronavirus and recently declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, is no different. From phishing campaigns to fake ads for health supplies to malware-infected sites claiming to have information, cyber criminals are out in force to get the most they can from a public that’s distracted and afraid.

Here are some ways to help you stay cyber-secure during the COVID-19 outbreak.

  1. Pay attention to your email.

    Phishing is one of the easiest ways for scammers to trick you or infect your computer, and according to some sources, phishing attacks account for more than 80% of reported security incidents, and 94% of malware is delivered via email. During the COVID-19 outbreak, scammers may send emails posing as legitimate health authorities or claiming to sell hand sanitizer or other supplies. Avoid clicking links in unsolicited emails and be skeptical of email attachments. Never give personal or financial information over email, and always remember that no bank or governmental organization will ask for such information through email.

  2. Stick to trusted sources for information.

    When looking for updates about COVID-19, visit websites of government agencies and reliable news media directly; hover your mouse over links to view the URL before you click to be sure you’re going where you expect. Hackers have designed fake websites with maps of COVID-19’s spread that actually infect computers with malware. If a site prompts you to download an app, be suspicious.

  3. Think about how telework might change your attack surface.

    As areas of the country quarantine, more companies are encouraging or requiring their employees to work from home. Double-check the security of systems that allow for remote access, and ensure patches are up to date. Consider requiring multi-factor authentication. Evaluate your business continuity and incident response plans to account for a more distributed workforce.

  4. Check in with your supply chain.

    If you have key partners or suppliers you depend on, communicate with them about any challenges they may be facing during the ongoing situation. Discuss their cybersecurity practices and encourage them to stay vigilant of cyberattacks. Consider sharing cyber threat intelligence among your supply chain to help everyone stay secure.

  5. Wash your hands.
    Yeah, we know this one isn’t really cybersecurity, but trust us: the fight against hackers is easier when you’re healthy. Viruses aren’t fun in your body or on your computer!