The Covid-19 crisis has created unprecedented challenges for businesses and employees across almost every industry. For many people, this means a shift to working from home. Unfortunately, it also represents an opportunity for scammers to try and take advantage of the uncertainty. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of the Department of Homeland Security is reminding people to remain extra-vigilant during this time. Here are some tips to keep yourself safe while working remotely:
- Accessing your Workplace
If your company has provided equipment for you to work remotely, use it. This will ensure that you’re protected by the maximum level of security they maintain. This is usually done through connecting to a virtual private network (VPN)
- Keep Your Home Network Secure
On your home network, make sure your router firmware is up to date and you have a strong password in place. Take advantage of tools from your Internet provider that can help monitor your system and alert you if there’s a problem.
- Separate Personal and Professional
Whenever possible, keep your work and personal digital life separate. On your personal devices, make sure that you have reliable antivirus software. Set it to automatically update and run regular scans of your system.
- Watch for IT Impersonators
Be wary of fraudsters who may pretend to be members of your IT staff at work. Use extreme caution and validate if you are asked to download or allow access to “check” something.
- Visit Trustworthy Sites
Only visit reputable websites or news organizations that you trust, as malicious websites and misinformation about COVID-19 are rampant. Google has created a comprehensive information resource at https://www.google.com/covid19/
- Health-Related and Charitable Giving Scams
Watch for phishing e-mails from scammers posing as legitimate health organizations. Be wary of sites that may offer statistics or links to fictitious interactive maps. These links in particular may hide malware that gets installed on your device. Additionally, beware of scams wanting donations fictitious charities, or posing as representatives of legitimate ones.
- Ignore and Don’t Click!
Hang up on any calls and delete text messages that want you to provide personal information or click on links.
- Be Cautious with Hot Spots
If you’re away from home and need to connect, be extra-cautious about the hot spot you’re using. If you can, set up and connect to your own VPN.
- Watch for Financial Scams With the possibility of a government stimulus, be on the lookout for scammers who may ask for your banking information or are offering an advance of funds. Also, the same always holds true for anyone claiming to be with the IRS.
- Use Strong Passwords
The basics will always apply! For any websites or services, always create strong passwords, and change them frequently. If offered, use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to further protect yourself.
For a list of current COVID-19 related scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/03/ftc-coronavirus-scams-part-2
Remember, scammers will always prey upon fear and uncertainty, and times of crisis are an opportunity. Remaining vigilant and educated is critical to get through these trying times, particularly as our dependency on electronic communication continues to grow.