Crises are often followed by underhanded attempts to use unfortunate circumstances for criminal gain. With many businesses having transitioned from office-based operations to remote work during the current global pandemic, cyber criminals are taking advantage of the lax protective measures that exist in many home networks. Cyber attacks reportedly rose by 37% in March of this year alone.
Overwhelmed systems are unable to deal with the barrage of attacks, and this wave of cyber threats could put your business’s entire system at risk. For businesses who are seeking protection, here is some advice on how to guard your company’s technology against hackers capitalizing on coronavirus.
Don’t Get Phished
Phishing attempts are one of the largest COVID-19 scams currently being used. These have included texts or emails requesting bank details or passwords under the guise of banks or cell phone providers. Typically, these messages claim that there is an issue processing payment and say you are required to click a link to receive your stimulus check or for the company to collect a monthly bill.
Part of what makes phishing scams so successful so often is that they can blend in seamlessly to the general messages you receive daily. If you’re not vigilant, they can be all too easy to fall for. Often, merely clicking a link is enough to give phishers’ malicious malware access to your computer. However, while phishing attacks can sometimes be difficult to recognize, there are some common indicators that can often tip you off:
- An incorrect domain name: Phishing emails often alter a real domain name slightly—for example, the email will be sent from someone @appl.com instead of apple.com.
- Threats: Phishing attacks pressure victims to comply by threatening negative consequences, such as shutting down a service or legal action. Legitimate companies do not use threats.
- Payment requests: Any time you receive an unscheduled or unsolicited payment request, this should immediately be considered suspicious.
- Grammar mistakes: Legitimate companies usually don’t include egregious spelling and grammar mistakes or strange-sounding wording. Beware of any message that just sounds unnatural.
- Unexpected links or attachments: Phishing scams often work by downloading malware to your device through a link or attachment.
If you receive a message that seems suspicious, it’s always best to contact the supposed source directly through contact information from their home website to clarify.
Create Strong Passwords
Strong passwords are always a good idea, but they are especially critical when protecting personal or sensitive information. You should always use strong passwords for your home router network, as well as logins for social media and banking.
A strong password will include a combination of different numbers, letters, and symbols. Passphrases, or strings of several random words together, are more secure than using just one word. And you should never use the same password for multiple accounts. A secure password manager can help you keep track of different passwords so you don’t have to rely on remembering the same one for every site.
It’s also worth considering the benefits of multi-factor authentication to take your security to the next level. This ensures that even if a threat actor gets a hold of your login information, they will be unable to access your account without another identifying factor such as a fingerprint or a key code sent to your phone.
Train Your Team
Hackers often rely on human error. While many associate hackers with using high-tech systems to crawl through password combinations, this is often not necessary. Instead, they look for laissez-faire attitudes towards security within companies and take advantage of low network security.
It’s essential to train your team to employ safe practices, including not downloading or clicking links from untrustworthy sources and using strong passwords, while also changing these passwords regularly. You should also encourage them to install updates on time to keep the systems well-protected.
Upgrade Your Security Services
Another way to prevent hacking attempts is to upgrade your IT security services (which can include Security Awareness Training for your staff, for example) to provide additional security, including router firewalls, secure networks, and VPNs, to reduce your risk of experiencing a breach.
By upgrading your security services to suffice your new remote network needs and stay up-to-date on the latest threats, you can become less of a target for criminals who are seeking to take advantage of your data.
Use Encryption Apps
Encryption apps such as FileVault are another fantastic way to ensure security and protect your systems from hackers. This app provides full disk encryption, which prevents unauthorized access and protects your hard drive, while also adding further dimensions to the security of your data.
Follow Official Updates
It’s always essential to stay up to date on developments. You can use official sources, including the FTC, to stay up to date with scams as they’re reported. This will help prepare you for any potential threats that could come your way, either through email, pop-ups, or text messages.
You may get warnings from friends and family over social media, including WhatsApp, regarding alleged scams that are circulating. While it’s comforting to know that people are looking out for you, these are not always legitimate and could instead put your network at risk, so you should be wary of any forwarded messages.
As with anything relating to your data and personal or company information, you must be vigilant and take the correct measures to protect yourself and your network. In doing so, you will minimize the risk of falling victim to a cyber attack.