Cyber Hygiene during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Cyber Hygiene and Working From Home during the Coronavirus

Working from home (WFH), in addition to a series of interpersonal upheavals and adaptations, requires a new approach to the Cyber Hygiene.

Habits like to update constantly software and apps on all devices, doing a regular backup to avoid data loss, and to use updated and certified antiviruses to identify undetected intrusion or theft of sensitive data should be the new daily norm from businessess to professionals and people alike.

The Coronavirus has changed not only the private life of humanity but also its working life.
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Companies all over the world are getting organized to respond to this new unexpected and indispensable need for the WFH .
This sudden adaptation from the physical to the digital world has already completely changed various working procedures and aspects of jobs like sales, customer service, and all that sectors and jobs where the face to face interactions were key or at least the main components.

Many employees and companies in the Service Industry as well as in Agriculture, Construction, and Manufacturing sectors have already experienced the profound change that is taking place even today, both in the psychological, economic and organizational spheres.
These sectors, companies and people are also experiencing adaptation at the fastest rate but not all them can adapt so fast.
Additionally the uncertainty of the situation with the new COVID-19 variants is creating panic and problems linked to the impossibility of knowing at least how long this emergency will last.

Therefore it is more important now than ever to reorganize the corporate employees’ work using remote connection tools, videoconferencing and data sharing with other colleagues to digitalize the working life with the expectation of a longer if not permanent WFH.
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The cyber risks are not limited to Businesses they are also present in the private life of employees and professionals; when computers, tablets and smartphones are outside the corporate network, employees and people alike can suffer as well from cyber-attacks or data loss, theft and other forms of cybercrimes.

The speed with which WFH has become indispensable for Businesses and people alike has not allowed small companies and professionals to organize themselves adequately as well as with the right timing therefore the risk of cyber-attacks and "privacy & security" is currently a real threat.

Measures to adopt to avoid cyber attacks, viruses and other cyberthreats while WFH

1) Using secure VPN connections: Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a software that generates a Private Tunnel Through the Web to connect directly with the corporate network or the necessary application. An encrypted VPN connection prevents any malicious person from "sniffing" web traffic or intercepting sensitive documents, data, etc. , by hiding the navigation.

2) Regurarly update of the home router password: Internet connections in home networks are always exposed and thus easier to hack.  Resetting the password is very important as routers supplied for home users often have standard configurations with self-generated passwords that can be found very simply even online.

To frequently change the router password and create a new secure one of at least 20 characters (encrypted with WPA2 encryption) containing punctuation, numbers and uppercase / lowercase letters will already guarantee a good security of the home Network.
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3) To Update the Operating System and the Software in use: Regularly carry out all the required software updates can protect from bugs natively present in ALL applications, patches and software or firmware updates and it is of vital importance both for the stability of the systems and applications and of cyber security

4) Antivirus database update and Firewall activation: To be protected from Bots and Attacks of various kinds, each personal computer must ALWAYS be equipped with an Updated Antivirus and an active Firewall. These two systems will help you to keep your data uninfected and will control the incoming and outgoing traffic of your connection. Whether they are with Windows, Mac, Andoid or Ios environment.
Always to create backup copies on sources other than those used for the job, e.g. on the cloud or on a USB stick. It is always a good habit to make regular backup copies in order not to have data loss in case of failures or cyber-attacks.
5) To check the legitimacy of websites and application: In the situation resulting from the Coronavirus, where WFH and the increasing digitalization of the Economy have moved large numbers of individuals and companies online, hackers and cybercriminals have exploited the situation by intensifying their attacks by taking advantage of the risk of the ongoing epidemic with new cyber-viruses and insidious computer fraud.

In 2020 it was very common a targeted phishing and malware campaigns related to the COVID-19 epidemic with a massive sending of email messages and more of the AZORult infostealer malware to users that were looking for information and who were unaware how to verify the websites from where they were asking for information or looking to find reliable data.
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Hackers created a fake website that showed the worldwide map of the spread of the COVID-19 virus by simulating the GUI (Graphical User Interface) to the one hosted on the systems of the Johns Hopkins University.

The AZORult virus, in addition to download many cyber threats into the affected devices, collects information such as name, ID / password, payment card number, cryptocurrencies and other sensitive data that are stored in browsers; while the most sophisticated versions of this virus allow hackers to install and use Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connections.

Our advice and from Cyber-Security companies and experts is to carefully avoid to open attachments of new received e-mails and to scan them first with the Antivirus, additionally it is important to check the trustworthiness of websites before giving sensible information or to agree to receive information from them.

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