The importance and security concerns of staying connected during the COVID-19 pandemic

May 14, 2020 | Devin Morrissey

staying connected

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The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe has effectively put a stop to the bulk of face-to-face interactions. With social distancing and shelter in place orders in effect, people are stuck at home and relying on the Internet as not only a tool for communication and entertainment but as their only way to earn money during this hectic and uncertain time. With this new and unexpected reliance on connectivity, both companies and consumers should take extra precautions in ensuring that their data is protected. Cybercriminals are using this chaotic situation to try to obtain sensitive materials.

Online Access Is More Important Than Ever

The COVID-19 pandemic has left millions unemployed or working exclusively from home without warning or time for preparation. Fortunately, many Internet providers are offering low-cost options and waiving late payment fees to ease the financial burden on those who are stuck at home without gainful employment. Regardless of whether people are working from home or not, they still rely on the Internet for socialization and entertainment since both of those “in-person” options have been taken away unceremoniously.

As more and more people find themselves using their Internet connections for work and leisure during their time indoors, solid and reliable service has become vital for many. Outages could have potentially disastrous results, not only for individuals but for entire companies and their workforce. Everyone has now been moved exclusively online. This situation has put tremendous pressure on the Internet infrastructure throughout the world and has heightened the need for cybersecurity measures across the board.

Whether working from home or simply using the Internet for entertainment purposes, the increased number of people who are online means that there are more opportunities to fall prey to cyber-attacks. It is important for those who find themselves spending significantly more time online to exercise increased caution in the coming weeks and months to protect themselves and their workplaces from criminals who seek to do serious harm.

How Cybercriminals Are Taking Advantage

Working from home, while being a great opportunity for many to continue making money, has also introduced many workers to online work-related software for the first time. This inherently increases the risk of cyber-attacks and phishing schemes due to increased online traffic from people who may not be well-versed in cybersecurity practices.

Phishing schemes can prey on anyone who uses the internet. They work by getting users to click on malicious links or documents. The risk of this has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the sheer number of e-mails being sent to and from employers and employees, providing the opportunity for cybercriminals to prey on those who aren’t used to practicing basic cybersecurity as part of their daily work.

With so many workers turning to their smart devices to work, mobile application security is paramount to the cybersecurity of both personal files and sensitive data that they might have access to through work. While many people are freely downloading apps during this time to assist with work or pass the time, it is important to ensure that the apps come from a reputable developer. This is important because many apps ask the user to grant unnecessary permissions on their device which can lead to the theft of sensitive information.

Steps That Should Be Taken To Stay Secure

The motivations of a cyber attack can be widely varied from pursuing financial gain to espionage and even the destruction of valuable data. No matter the reasoning used by a cybercriminal, the illegal accessing of sensitive data poses a massive risk to both individuals and entire corporate entities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The increased online traffic presents the perfect opportunity for cybercriminals to act maliciously with the reduced risk of being discovered.

For businesses, it is vital that all employees receive training in basic cybersecurity if they are to be working from home over the Internet. Existing procedures and security systems might not be equipped to handle the situation as it currently exists. Re-evaluating possible threats can help a business better understand where they might be at the greatest risk of a data breach. Even the most well-prepared companies are now faced with an unprecedented situation when it comes to their cybersecurity. It might be in the best interest of many companies to find emergency funding for their cybersecurity measures.

Individuals should also take extra steps to prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, medical records and data are especially vulnerable. Hospitals are being inundated with new patients, and many hospitals aren’t equipped to deal with the increased threats of cybercrimes that have come with it. People should always consider the threat of identity theft or the potential for their personal financial and medical data to be compromised. It is important to take extra precautions in the coming weeks when shopping online, clicking on links, and providing information to businesses to avoid any unnecessary risk.

In turbulent times such as these, it can be far too easy to forget the importance of cybersecurity. However, the nature of the pandemic has pushed a huge amount of traffic onto the Internet, necessitating a more serious look into cybersecurity for companies big and small as well as individuals who are just trying to get through the pandemic. Take care of yourself, but also be sure to take care of your sensitive online data.

Devin Morrissey

About the Author: Devin Morrissey

Devin prides himself on being a jack of all trades; his career trajectory is more a zigzag than an obvious trend, just the way he likes it. He pops up across the Pacific Northwest, though never in one place for long. You can follow him more reliably on Twitter.

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