COVID-19 Daily Life: Cybersecurity

COVID-19 (also called the coronavirus) is changing the way we all do things for the next few months, with social distancing and non-essential shut-downs our new normal. To help you move with the times, stay connected and keep entertained, the Digital Ready for Daily Life program has put together info, tips, tricks, hacks and how-to’s for all things digital in your daily life.

The Internet is a critical part of our lives, now more than ever when so many services are moving to digital only during social distancing measures. Unfortunately, when there is a global disruption like COVID-19, many people are in survival mode and become vulnerable to cyber attacks.

As Australia and Tasmania head into widespread distancing measures like working from home, and moving bricks and mortar businesses to e-commerce operations, it is worthwhile to be aware of some handy cyber security measures to make sure you are able to focus on what is important – keeping you and your family safe.

Cyber attacks on individuals fall under a few different categories and tend to use the same strategies used with big business and government. You may wonder what you could possibly have that would be of interest to cyber criminals hanging out in the dark web. The answer is the same thing that motivates all criminal activity – money, data and often just pure malicious disruption. While you may be a little fish, when data is stolen from a number of little fish, it adds up to a big school. Here are some Digital Ready for Daily Life tips to keep you safe from any unwanted cyber attacks

  • Don’t open suspicious emails from people or businesses you don’t recognise. There are already a couple of COVID-19 scams on email. No doubt with the recently announced financial packages there will be new ways to trick people into opening emails. The government, tax office and your bank will never ask for personal or sensitive details to be provided over email. Stay vigilant and don’t open. This is an example of a current scam targeting people about getting tested for the virus. Yep, those scammers will stoop to anything.
  • No unknown downloads. Make a rule against downloading files from unknown senders, as this is a way for cyber criminals to run software on your device that can steal your information.
  • Check your Firewalls. Make sure everything is up-to-date on all the devices or machines in your house that connect to the internet, especially if kids or other family members are using them, because you want to make sure you are secure everywhere you can be.
  • Use current virus protection on all devices. Keep it current and updated whenever new patches become available.
  • Insist upon strong passwords. Weak passwords like "ABC123" or "password" are like an open door to cyber attacks. Instead, use a combination of symbols, letters and numbers and make sure you regularly change them.
  • Update your operating system regularly. This is especially important when new security patches come out. Many computers do this automatically, but make sure you have the auto update function turned on so you don't miss out.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN). These connect you to the web with an encrypted connection so data being shared online can't be seen by third parties.
  • MFA/2FA. Enable multi or two factor identification on all devices and accounts where it is offered. This is where you get a pin number sent to your mobile phone or a security question to answer before you can login.
  • Make sure mobile devices are secure. Don't store important passwords on any mobile device.
  • People are flawed. Yes, even you and your family members. Make sure everyone is aware of scams and knows they need to be careful. Right now we are all stressed and anxious and that can make us forget some of our basic more cautious behaviours, particularly when the criminals are counting on us being distracted.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a graphic reminder that disasters happen and they happen to all of us. You don’t want to double the devastation of having your personal accounts hacked or your bank accounts emptied. The good news is managing Internet security, even in a global pandemic, is simply a matter of knowing the risks and putting suitable measures in place.

To help you out, keep up to date with what is happening nationally through the Australian Cyber Security Centre and be wary of any unsolicited attempts to ask for sensitive personal or business information, even if they seem to come from a reputable organisation. Stay healthy, stay safe, stay distant, stay alert (but not alarmed).