How to Stay Safe Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Theglove wearerhasamessagetostoptheCoronavirus
The glove-wearer has a message to stop the Coronavirus

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you are probably spending most of your time indoors. Since you cannot meet up with people who matter in your life due to the preventive measures put in place by your government, you are heavily relying on your smartphone, laptops, computers, tablets, and other smart devices to stay connected.

Thanks to the time you spend online in the new normal, you are now, more than ever, exposed to cyber-attacks.

Cybercriminals are known to take advantage of calamities such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and storms to achieve their malicious goals, and there is no doubt that COVID-19 has come as a blessing to them.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, hundreds of cyber-attacks have been reported across the globe. This means that as you turn to your devices to kill boredom through streaming your favorite programs, analyzing NBA betting expert picks, or talking to your friends or colleagues, someone is looking for an opportunity to get access to your sensitive data.

To avoid falling victim to hackers and snoopers whose aim is to make the best of the unfortunate outbreak, below are some cybersecurity tips you should keep in mind;

  1. Think before you click

Phishing scams are developed by highly skilled cybercriminals who understand every aspect of human psychology. They are designed in such a way that they are able to exploit uncertainty and fear. During this pandemic, scammers might send you messages and emails that supposedly contain new and helpful information about the virus.

Before you click any links, ensure you take some ample time to think. Most of the links and attachments you receive might contain malware, which hackers could use to steal your personal and financial information.

Other links could also contain ransomware, which scammers use to extort money from their victims.

To prevent a virus from getting into your device, DO NOT open messages or emails from people or organizations you aren’t familiar with.

Also, check for anomalies in the way a message is crafted. More often than not, messages from scammers are often characterized by unclear language and tens of typos. In case the message purports to be from the World Health Organization or any other organization you know, simply visit the official website instead of clicking the link sent to you.

  1. Protect your privacy

Since you are spending a lot of your time online, there are high chances that you are exposing a great deal of your personal information.

Considering that you haven’t had enough time to review your privacy settings, perhaps this is the ideal time to do so on different platforms.

On Google, you can limit the amount of information the search engine collects, such as your search history and location data in your Google account. For social media sites such as Facebook, you might not limit the amount of data they collect, but you can limit what people see in the privacy settings.

If you want to join new social media sites and expand your social circle, make sure you do thorough research and ensure every service you sign up for provides end-to-end encryption.

  1. Ensure you join video chats safely

In the new normal, one of the best ways of connecting with your friends, family members, and colleagues is through video chats.

Over the past few months, the safety of some video apps such as Zoom has been questioned, and this has prompted some countries such as Taiwan to ban its use for official purposes.

Endeavor to use video chat apps that provide end-to-end encryption so that you can be sure no third party accesses your private conversation and other sensitive data.

  1. Update your apps and software

Cybercriminals take advantage of outdated apps and software to penetrate even the most secure systems.

Therefore, ensure that all your apps, programs, and software that continuously communicate with the internet are up-to-date.

You can turn on the auto-update feature in your device, but to be safe, regularly check if browsers and apps you use to read documents you get online are updated.

Another critical aspect you shouldn’t forget is to use trustworthy software or application from trusted sources. For instance, it’s safer to download WhatsApp from Google Store or Apple Store than doing so from a third-party website.

  1. Delete all accounts that you don’t use

By having many accounts on different platforms that you no longer use, you go a long mile in exposing your personal data. When you delete them, you will ensure that there is less data exposed to the virtual world, hence fewer privacy risks.

In case there are accounts that you don’t use at the moment, but you will use them sometime in the future, consider installing a reliable password manager that will store the passwords to those accounts in encrypted form and generate new passwords that cannot be guessed. This way, you will ensure that unauthorized parties don’t access your personal and/or financial information.

As you stay safe by staying home, washing your hands, and keeping social distance, it’s essential to keep the above tips in mind so that you can enhance your online safety. They will not only help you overcome the security threats that have come with the COVID-19 pandemic, but they will also help you survive other online epidemics in the future.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.