COVID-19 Home Risks

As we all deal with the COVID-19 virus by staying at home, quarantining ourselves and maintaining social distancing, it’s pretty hard to believe that there are so many evil people around who want to take advantage of that.

Businesses have been required to close in order to protect the public health, and as a result, most people are working from home.

How confident are you that your home computer is as secure as your work computer and network? It’s almost certainly not. That means you are risking not only your own personal information, but also your entire work network and all of its data.

Here are 10 things you can do now to better protect your digital identity, your sensitive personal information, and the data of your fellow employees at work.

#1 Think before you click.

  • Cyber criminals are taking advantage of people looking up information
    on COVID-19.
  • They are sending malware through email that impersonates organizations like WHO, CDC, and other reputable sources. Then they ask you to click on links or download outbreak maps.
  • Don’t click. Much better to go directly to the reputable website to access the content.

#2 Secure your home router.

  • Home networks are usually much less secure than their business counterparts. This can be one of the easiest ways for someone to get into your home computer and from there into your work network.
  • Make sure that the admin password for your router has been changed from the default one that it came with. A quick Google search provides the default username and password for every popular router. No technical expertise needed.
  • Update the router’s firmware to the newest version to ensure that security flaws have been patched.
  • To use the best possible security, use a company-issued Virtual Private Network (VPN) to
    access any work accounts.

#3 Check your anti-virus.

  • First make sure that you have anti-virus software. Everyone needs it – even Mac users.
  • Don’t rely on Windows Defender alone. A good free anti-virus program for Macs and PC’s is Avast. Google it.
  • If you’re able to pay for it, Bitdefender is one of the best.
  • Once you have it, make sure that it’s running and is up to date.

#4 Add anti-malware software.

  • Download a free copy of Malwarebytes and run a full malware scan.
  • The malicious software — malware, for short — can allow cyber criminals to take control of your computer, log your keystrokes, or access your personal information and financial data, which can lead to identity theft.

#5 Don’t reveal personal or financial information in an email.

  • This may sound like common sense, but you would be surprised how many people do this anyway – especially when they think the email message is from a trusted source. 

#6 Beware of online requests for personal information.

  • A Corona Virus-themed email that seeks personal information like your Social Security number or login information is a phishing scam.
  • Legitimate government agencies won’t ask for that information.
  • Never respond to an email with your personal data. Never.

#7 Check the email address or link. 

  • You can inspect a link by hovering (not clicking) your mouse button over the URL to see where it leads.
  • Sometimes, it’s obvious the web address is not legitimate.
  • But keep in mind phishers can create links that closely resemble legitimate addresses.
  • Delete the email if it’s suspicious.

#8 Watch for spelling and grammatical mistakes.

  • If an email has spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors, it’s likely a sign you’ve received a phishing email.
  • The sender is not who you think it is.
  • Delete it.

#9 Look for generic greetings.

  • Phishing emails are unlikely to use your name. Greetings like “Dear sir or madam” signal an email is not legitimate.

#10 Avoid emails that insist you act now. 

  • Phishing emails often try to create a sense of urgency or demand immediate action.
  • The goal is to get you to click on a link and provide personal information — right now.
  • Instead, delete the message.