The coronavirus outbreak has seen a spike in cybercriminal activity. As more people are confined to their homes, they are spending more time online for either personal or professional reasons. Hackers are exploiting this increased Internet use by exploiting people’s fears and anxiety over the coronavirus.
More time online heightens your chances of exposure to a cyber attack – but so does poor cyber hygiene. With restrictions on movement in place in many countries, accessing IT support at home could be difficult. Now, more than ever, you should pay close attention to your home’s cyber defences and heavily scrutinise new information, applications, and email senders.
The three areas where you’re most vulnerable to cyberattacks are:
1) Your home network
2) Phishing and counterfeit scams
3) Your children spending more time online
Let’s look at each area in more detail.
Your Home Network
With social distancing measures in place worldwide, people are staying in and using their home networks much more than before. Many people are working from home, students are accessing their schoolwork from home, and everyone is generally spending more time online since they can’t go out. These increased activities put pressure on your home internet, which is likely not as secure as a corporate or educational institution connection.
Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the less secure networks people are using more frequently. Simply by connecting more often, you’re potentially exposing yourself to risks – especially if you’re not careful about your Internet behaviour. Accessing obscure websites or attempting to download pirated films to pass the time might lead you straight to an attacker.
What You Can Do: Practice safe Internet habits at home. You should be mindful of your cyber hygiene just as you are about washing your hands in a pandemic. Check that you have the proper security protocols in place to browse safely at home. Make sure your router has a complex password and that system firewalls are active and updated.
Also, don’t reuse passwords for multiple accounts. You can use a password manager or simply write them down on a piece of paper in a secure place in your home. Another way to stay secure is with a reliable virtual private network (VPN) to access the Internet. You should also keep your software and programmes updated, since weaknesses in outdated software are prime targets for hackers.
Phishing and Counterfeit Scams
Since the coronavirus outbreak, phishing scams have become increasingly prevalent. Emails that purport to contain “important coronavirus updates” will in fact contain malicious links. Hackers are using social engineering techniques to prey on your fears about the pandemic and your heightened desire for information during this time – a phenomenon the World Health Organization (WHO) has dubbed an “infodemic.”
There have also been reports of cybercriminals selling false medicines or healthcare equipment online. Fraudulent tests, fake masks, and unauthorised antiviral medications are among the counterfeit goods circulating. As shortages of healthcare products persist, cybercriminals are “filling the gap” with false goods.
What You Can Do: The best way not to fall victim to phishing scams and counterfeit products is to be vigilant about where you get your information from. Only follow official updates from reputable sources and never click on URLs in your email. If you want to visit the website, search for it through a search engine instead. You can usually spot phony emails by their quality – poor grammar and spelling are dead giveaways.
Also, be wary of any new apps or programmes you install. Only download them from their official, original sources. And when it comes to buying healthcare products online – if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Children Spending More Time Online
Another problem that’s been highlighted by cybersecurity officials is the rise of online paedophilia during the outbreak. Children are spending more time online than before, to complete their school assignments or surf the web when they’re stuck at home. Europol has seen increased activities of criminals looking for exploitation material online during this time.
What You Can Do: When you examine your own cyber hygiene standards, you should check those of your children as well. You can use parental blocks to limit their access to certain sites, but you should also discuss online behaviour with them. Go over Internet safety in detail with your kids, even if they’re older and you think they already understand online safety.
Final Thoughts on Vulnerable Places for Cyber Attacks During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Cybersecurity was important before the pandemic and it’s only gotten more vital as a result of it. Your home network can be especially open for attack, if you’re not paying attention. At Amazing Support, a North London IT support company, we’re urgently cautioning our clients to ensure their cyber safety right now. By staying watchful and taking the right steps, you too can keep yourself and your family safe from cyber attacks.