Good Digital Hygiene Can Combat COVID-19 Cybercrime

With the continual spread of COVID-19, global health, society and many institutions are largely affected and disrupted. Another hidden threat that most aren’t aware of is right under your fingertips: the risk of cyber-attacks that prey on our increased dependence on the Internet and other digital tools during this crisis.

During this widespread of a pandemic, reliance on digital communication multiplies. The Internet has instantly become the passage for effective human interaction and the way we work, contact and support one another. With most businesses and public-sector organizations enforcing “work from home” procedures and public officials urging individuals to stay at home, society is forced to be almost completely reliant on digital means for work, communication, shopping, etc.

Hackers have wasted no time figuring out how to exploit this pandemic. These cybercriminals are extremely creative in devising new methods to manipulate users and technology to access passwords, networks and data. They use fear, concern and uncertainty during this pandemic to lure their victims into revealing information.

 In today’s unprecedented circumstance, a cyber-attack that deprives organizations or families of access to their devices, data or the Internet could be devastating and irreparable.

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic requires us to change our social habits and routines to reduce infection rates, a change in our online behavior can help maintain high levels of cybersecurity. Here are our biggest tips for practicing good digital hygiene to combat cyber-attacks during this crisis:

Good Digital Hygiene

In addition to washing your hands after every physical contact and keeping frequently touched items disinfected to prevent the spread of COVID-19, take the time to review your digital hygiene habits. Both physical hygiene and cyber hygiene will help fight against viruses.

  • Make sure you’re using strong, unique passwords not only for your computer, devices and online accounts, but your home Wi-Fi. When working from home, you likely don’t have the same security defenses that your office has. It’s important to make sure your home network is secure.
  • With that being said, make sure system firewalls are active on your router. Your firewall establishes a barrier between a trusted internal network and an untrusted external network and will determine what can pass through. It’s important to make sure that it is correctly configured and turned on at all times.
  • Use a reliable VPN at all times
  • Always be on the lookout for phishing emails. Many cybercriminals are leveraging this pandemic by sending links to fake coronavirus websites or charities advertising relevant information to distribute malware. Don’t be fooled and know what to look out for:
    • Look for poor grammar, punctuation mistakes or typos.
    • Be extra cautious if the email tone is urgent.
    • Be extra cautious if you weren’t expecting an email or attachment.
    • Hover your mouse over a sent link to check if it directs to the right website.
    • Make sure you know the sender of the email. Verify the sender’s domain with another email you’ve received from them in the past.
  • Be sure to update your system, software and applications regularly to patch any weaknesses that may be exploited.
  • Review privacy and security settings on your apps, accounts and social media.
  • Back up your data frequently. If you’re doing regular back-ups, the repercussions of a cyber-attack aren’t likely to be irreparable; you may lose some data, but you won’t have lost everything!

Digital viruses spread much like physical ones; your potential mistakes online could very well contaminate others in your organization, your contact list or the broader community. Everyone’s individual behavior is instrumental in preventing the spread of dangerous infections both online and in the physical world.

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