As most of the world closes its doors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, scammers are seeing digital doors open everywhere.
With remarkable eagerness, corporate America shifted from a bustling community to a quiet quarantine in a matter of weeks. Some of us use our new-found free time to develop talents, establish healthier habits, or—more likely—watch Netflix, while others capitalize on compromised corporate security by targeting remote workers.
The Federal Trade Commission reports that since the beginning of 2020, Americans have lost $13.4 million to coronavirus scams, including false cures, cleaning supplies that never arrive, and fake World Health Organization or law-enforcement officials requesting personal information. In this unstable environment, Americans have proved more susceptible to scammers, but it’s not just their private data at risk.
With more people working from home, employees are trading stringent corporate security in favor of personal networks that often contain glaring vulnerabilities. According to CNN Business, compromised private devices are a major security threat for remote workers. Sensitive data becomes vulnerable the first time a worker uses a cell phone infected with malware to connect to the company’s network—and odds are, it will happen more than once. When an infected personal device connects to a corporate network, the malware can download onto any network-connected device, exposing the entire company to the virtual virus.
Although COVID-19 has created a unique cybersecurity landscape, there are many ways employees can help keep their company and their customers safe from potential hackers:
- Keep your desktop password protected – There’s always a chance your computer may fall into the wrong hands. Keeping your desktop password protected presents another obstacle for scammers.
- Sign up for a VPN service – Rather than transmit data through your Internet Service Provider (ISP), which can track your movements, a VPN is a private network that ISPs can’t track. They also encrypt your information so virtual onlookers aren’t able to steal your data.
- Keep work and private devices separate – When you perform personal tasks on your work computer, not only do you open the company to potential malware or phishing attacks, but you make your private information vulnerable to hackers targeting the company.
- Use cloud applications – Cloud-based applications automatically update, so they are the most capable of resisting hacks.
- Regularly update your desktop apps – Developers constantly work to combat hacks to their programs. By regularly updating your apps, you’re working with the most secure version.
- Avoid phishing emails – Don’t open emails from unknown senders or click links with unknown destinations. Most importantly, check URLs carefully before entering any private information.
- Use strong passwords – Choose a phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password, rather than picking a word. Include numbers and symbols in your passwords and use different passwords on your router, desktop, and company websites.
The past few months may have felt chaotic and understandably overwhelming, but it’s as important now as ever to vigilantly protect your private information so that when life-as-usual returns, you’ll actually be able to enjoy it.
Learn more about how AT&T is responding to coronavirus here.