Cybersecurity and COVID-19
The coronavirus outbreak has resulted in circuit breaker measures being undertaken, with the closing of non-essential services, full home-based learning for students and an elevated set of social distancing measures in Singapore.
Telecommuting arrangements have been made for all non-essential services and their employees. This can pose many difficulties including how to concentrate, balance priorities and be productive without requisite tools or dedicated office space. Compromises can be made for many of these problems in the upcoming 4 weeks as these heightened safe distancing measures are put in place.
However, cybersecurity should never be compromised.
As dependency on digital communications multiplies with these enhanced measures, cybercriminals have begun exploiting the increasing amount of time people spend online.
They leech on public concerns about the coronavirus and use COVID-19 themed phishing emails which purport official information, to steal money and personal data from individuals. Recently, a cyberattack in Brno University Hospital in the Czech Republic – a major COVID-19 testing hub – disrupted the institution’s operations and caused surgery deferments. This goes to show how a cyberattack on any organization can be dangerous and destructive.
Adding on, the level of security on personal devices will not be on par with that of a corporate-owned one. As employees access sensitive business data, concerns that home Wi-Fi networks may not have the same security controls as corporate offices may arise. As employees work from different locations, more focus on data privacy and identifications of intrusions will be essential.
A stronger cyber resilience is needed in this time of crisis. So what can we do?
Apart from washing your hands and staying clean, cyber hygiene standards have to be ramped up as well.
- It is essential to check that you have a long, complex router password for your home Wi-Fi and that system firewalls are active on your router.
- Pay extra attention than usual when installing software or providing personal information. Do not fall prey to phishing emails and verify sources of URLs when signing up for services.
- Ensure applications or programs downloaded and installed are original versions and/ or from a reliable source.
- You should also use a reliable VPN to secure your web traffic.
Last but not least, stay vigilant, socially responsible and stick to official coronavirus updates.
Alliance, C. P. (2020, April 3). Cyber threats during COVID19 situations challenging the effort to “flatten the curve”. Retrieved from https://medium.com/swlh/cyber-threats-during-covid19-situations-challenging-the-effort-to-flatten-the-curve-7e2e09c78ea3
Cybersecurity in the Time of COVID-19. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cfr.org/blog/cybersecurity-time-covid-19
News Highlights. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.moh.gov.sg/news-highlights/details/circuit-breaker-to-minimise-further-spread-of-covid-19
Pipikaite, A., Davis, N., Visiting Professor in Cybersecurity, & UCL Department of Science. (n.d.). Coronavirus pandemic: why cybersecurity matters. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/coronavirus-pandemic-cybersecurity/
Sentonas, M. (2020, March 18). Cybersecurity & COVID-19: Keys to Securing a Remote Workforce. Retrieved from https://www.crowdstrike.com/blog/securing-a-remote-workforce-in-the-time-of-covid-19/