Learn why cybercrime tends to spike during times of global crisis. Get tips on how to protect your tech environment from cyber criminals during the coronavirus.
Right now, people are hanging onto every news story about the coronavirus. They’re checking social media more than usual. They’re setting up home offices, learning how to use new collaboration tools with their colleagues, or trying to figure out what to do in the absence of income.
They’re also dealing with their kids being at home all day and wading into homeschool. On top of all this, they’re worried about the spread of the virus and its effect on the economy. While everyone is stressed, busy, and distracted, cybercriminals are focused and ready to go.
Cyberattacks almost always spike during times of global crisis, and right now, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that the coronavirus is no exception. Scammers are hacking into databases, sending out phishing emails, and leveraging the pandemic to convince victims to make donations to fake organizations or buy counterfeit personal protection equipment.
Analysts speculate that cybercriminals will cause $6 trillion in damages in 2021, and in 2020, damages are mounting as criminals take advantage of this situation. Research indicates that phishing emails have increased by 667% since February — that’s a seven fold increase in just a few weeks.
Being aware of the risk of cybercrime is the first step. While many people think they are immune, no one is free of this risk — in fact, cybercriminals spend a lot of time targeting small businesses and organizations. To protect your business, practice these security essentials.
1. Be hyper-vigilant of incoming emails
As indicated above, phishing emails are on the rise. Cybercriminals are relying on people to have their guard down, and you and your employees need to be vigilant.
A lot of these emails contain dangerous attachments, while others include links to malicious websites. Never open an attachment or click a link from an unknown sender. If the sender looks familiar, take a few extra minutes to verify their identity. Scam artists often make their emails look like they’re coming from someone you know or from an organization like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
2. Secure all work-from-home computers
Another reason cybercrime is exploding right now is due to the unprecedented number of people who are working from home. If your employees are working from home, you need to take extra steps to secure your network.
Ideally, you should have your employees work on computers issued by your business. Home computers tend to be full of potentially dangerous videos, photos, or downloads.
Make sure all the computers your employees are using have a firewall that is turned on and configured correctly. Firewall misconfigurations can create extensive vulnerabilities in your network.
Finally, have your employees access everything through a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts all the data transmitted from their computers, creating an additional layer of security. Ideally, you should use a dual-factor VPN that requires your employees to enter their password plus an additional piece of verification such as a code texted to their phone.
3. Beef up your password strategy
Weak passwords threaten the security of your tech environment. Make sure your employees understand the importance of never using easy-to-guess passwords such as 12345, Password, their own names, or details visible on their social media pages.
Additionally, they shouldn’t let their browsers store passwords. Instead, you may want to look into a password manager such as LastPass or 1Password. These applications store passwords, but they can’t be accessed as easily as most browsers.
Cybercrime can cost you money, reduce your productivity, harm your reputation, and cause other types of damage to yourself, your employees, and your business. To reduce your vulnerability, contact a cybersecurity professional. They can help you identify the processes, products, and practices you need to stay as safe as possible, especially during a global crisis.