How to avoid Covid-19 online security risksSyah Ismail
Due to Covid-19, people around the world are staying at home and many are turning to new apps and communications tools to work, learn, access information and stay connected with loved ones.
While these digital platforms are helpful in our daily lives, they can also introduce new online security risks. Google’s Threat Analysis Group continually monitors for hacking activity and is seeing new Covid-19 messaging used in attacks and Google’s security systems have detected a range of new scams such as phishing emails posing as messages from charities and NGOs battling Covid-19, directions from “administrators” to employees working from home and even notices spoofing healthcare providers. It also spotted malware-laden sites that pose as sign-in pages for popular social media accounts, health organisations and even official coronavirus maps. During the past couple of weeks, Google’s advanced, machine-learning classifiers have seen 18 million daily malware and phishing attempts related to Covid-19, in addition to more than 240 million Covid-related spam messages.
To help you stay secure everywhere online, here are simple tips, tools and resources.
Know how to spot and avoid Covid-19 scams
With many of the Covid-19 related scams coming in the form of phishing emails, it’s important to pause and evaluate any Covid-19 email before clicking any links or taking other action. Be wary of requests for personal information such as your home address or bank details. Fake links often imitate established websites by adding extra words or letters to them. Check the URL’s validity by hovering over it (on desktop) or with a long press (on mobile).
Use your company’s enterprise email account for anything work-related
Even when working from home, it’s important to keep your work and personal email separate. Enterprise accounts offer additional security features that keep your company’s private information private. If you’re unsure about your company’s online security safeguards, check with your IT professionals to ensure the right security features are enabled, like two-factor authentication.
Secure your video calls on video conferencing apps
The security controls built into Google Meet are turned on by default so that in most cases, organisations and users are automatically protected. But there are steps you can take on any video conferencing app to make your call more secure:
- Consider adding an extra layer of verification to help ensure only invited attendees have access to the meeting.
- When sharing a meeting invite publicly, be sure to enable the “knocking” feature so that the meeting organizer can personally vet and accept new attendees before they enter the meeting.
- If you receive a meeting invite that requires installing a new video-conferencing app, always be sure to verify the invitation by paying special attention to potential imposters before installing.
Install security updates when notified
When working from home, your work computer may not automatically update your security technology as it would when in the office and connected to your corporate network. It’s important to take immediate action on any security update prompts. These updates solve for known security vulnerabilities which attackers are actively seeking out and exploiting.
Use a password manager to create and store strong passwords
With all the new applications and services you might be using for work and school purposes, it can be tempting to use just one password for all. To keep your private information private, always use unique, hard-to-guess passwords. A password manager, like the one built into Android, Chrome and your Google Account can help make this easier.
Protect your Google Account
If you use a Google Account, you can easily review any recent security issues and get personalised recommendations to help protect your data and devices with the Security Checkup. Within this tool, you can also run a Password Checkup to learn if any of your saved passwords for third-party sites or accounts have been compromised and then easily change them if needed.
You should also consider adding two-step verification (2FA) which you likely already have in place for online banking and other similar services to provide an extra layer of security. This helps keep out anyone who shouldn’t have access to your accounts by requiring a secondary factor on top of your username and password to sign in. To set this up for your Google Account, go to g.co/2SV. And if you’re someone who is at risk of a targeted attack like a journalist or activist, enrol in the Advanced Protection Program at g.co/advancedprotection.
Help your kids stay safe online
With schools closed around the world, kids are online more than ever before. You can help your kids learn how to spot scams with the educational material within the interactive learning game, Interland. You can also use Family Link to create age-appropriate accounts, control your kids’ app downloads and monitor their activity.
How Google Meet keeps your video conferences protected
Read about the key capabilities of Google Meet that help protect users.