During the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has replaced a great deal of face-to-face communication, enabling many aspects of life and business to continue despite the disruption all around us.
Unfortunately, fraudsters never let a good crisis go to waste, and every technology comes with data privacy and security risks that these criminals are ready to exploit. We’d like to offer three tips for securing your technology — whether you’re working or playing from home.
Keep your devices up to date.
Are you using an old smartphone or tablet that is out of support? If so, it’s time to upgrade. If your device isn’t receiving operating system updates and security patches, you’re vulnerable to hacks and malware — and the older the device, the more gaping the security holes. If you really can’t afford to upgrade now, make sure you have the most recent OS (operating software) that the device will handle, and layer on an effective antivirus/antimalware app.
Be on the lookout for phishing attacks.
Fraudsters are always trying to trick people into handing over their personal information — Social Security numbers, passwords, credit card details — and email scammers seem to amplify their phishing efforts during disasters. You may receive a message that appears to be from a reputable company, saying, for example, that there’s a problem with your payment for a purchase or there’s been some suspicious activity in your account, and asking you to click on a link to update your payment details or confirm your personal information. Clicking the link could download malware or take you to a fake website where the information you enter can be harvested. Often these emails are badly written, and they frequently use shortened or misspelled URLs or sender addresses. Don’t click any links, or download any attachments, until you’ve confirmed that a message is genuine.
Update your videoconferencing security and privacy settings.
Security and privacy issues — from “Zoom-bombing” meeting hijackings to the discovery of thousands of private meeting recordings on the open web — began cropping up soon after many businesses and schools transitioned to videoconferencing at the beginning of the pandemic. Many users assume that technology products are configured with security settings on by default, but that is often not the case. Whatever platform you’re using, be sure you have the latest version of the software and follow best practices such as using waiting-room features, enabling password protection, and not recording meetings unless you need to.
There will always be bad actors, but staying alert and taking basic precautions can help you safeguard your privacy and security.