COVID-19: Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Concerns
Author: Lucja “Lucie” Kossut
The COVID-19 pandemic raises numerous concerns regarding various crucial subjects, ranging from global health to economy and human rights. Many of us are still restricted and have no other choice but to fully transition to remote work or schooling, which poses several challenges. Such transition provides cybercriminals with valuable targets; newly-remote workforce and virtual classrooms are being preyed on by offenders based in cyberspace.
The Number of Cyberattacks Increases
The number of cybersecurity-related incidents has skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic and global lockdowns. The number is expected to increase even further as many are not familiar with the most effective methods to keep themselves protected from cyberattacks. For instance, there have been numerous reports of video conferences being hacked into, transcribed, and posted without the host’s or participants’ knowledge. Identity theft and phishing schemes have also been occurring much more frequently since the fully-online work, school, and shopping transition; many have expressed their concerns regarding making online purchases and entering their credit card information or providing sensitive personal data for work or school-related purposes.
How Can You Protect Yourself or Your Organization Against COVID-19 Related Fraud?
The pandemic has certainly increased the creativity of cybercriminals when it comes to fraudulent activities and scams — once they have realized that something that worked for them previously has been exposed, they quickly come up with a new way to target and exploit potential victims. For example, in the past, the “look-alike website” phishing scams in the financial sector used to be very common. Many websites were meticulously replicated, to the point that even the employees of the affected institutions could not determine the real and the fake versions. Knowing the type of scam circulating cyberspace will make you less likely to fall for it.
- Verify shopping websites before making online purchases. If a website looks unprofessional, sketchy, or has an unusual address or domain, it may be a good idea to pass on the purchase and look for the product or service elsewhere. Beware of “big sale” websites offering too-good-to-be-true deals, as they are most likely a scam that may result in identity theft or financial harm.
- Watch out for emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO. Beware that such emails may contain links that will result in viruses or other forms of malware being installed on your device. If you want to check the latest information regarding the pandemic, go directly to verified government websites.
- Do not fall for advertisements for cheap COVID-19 test kits. Not only the majority of them have not been approved by the FDA, but they also have proven to be highly inaccurate. Furthermore, the merchants of such kits are often located in foreign countries, which makes matters even more complicated if your financial information gets stolen by them.
- Ignore texts, emails or calls about checks from the government. Know that the IRS or other federal agencies do not call citizens regarding any checks or payments from the government — most people do not have to do anything to get their money because the IRS uses the same payment method that was chosen when filing taxes.
To summarize, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted various aspects of the daily lives of individuals as well as business operations and management. These changes exposed many to a higher level of vulnerability when it comes to data and privacy. For that reason, it is necessary to keep up to date with cybersecurity news and tips to avoid becoming one of the victims of a cyberattack.