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COVID-19 Calls Attention to Cyber Dangers
By Ryan Klinger
Because of COVID-19, the Internet has become the major means of communication for people and businesses. Families are hosting virtual birthday parties and holidays. Businesses, including The Bensman Group, have asked employees to work remotely and are holding virtual meetings with clients and within the company. In a real sense, the Internet makes it possible for business to continue in America. But it also poses some risks.
COVID-19 is not responsible for most of these risks, but it is particularly important now to be aware and careful. For example, check before you click. Scammers are rushing in to take advantage of the situation, sending emails and texts that offer special deals or ask for contributions but that actually contain viruses or malware. Before you click, look at the entire address from which the message came, not just the part that shows up in your email. If it is not an address you recognize, don’t open the message. And never click on a link or download something unless you are absolutely certain of the source.
If you use video calls for work or to stay connected, consider your options. Zoom is an extremely popular platform, because it is so widely used and at least some versions are free. It also is a popular target. Hackers are breaking in to both business and personal calls, sometimes even interrupting with hate speech or pornography. If you do video calls, you might want to look at other platforms. Read the reviews, and pay special attention to security.
If you are in charge of remote business communications, you should:
If, despite your best efforts, your system is compromised, the financial losses could be devastating. If a business is hacked and information about employees or clients is stolen, the business could be liable for any losses related to that theft. A computer virus could cause a business to shut down until the virus is removed and the system repaired. If the business unknowingly passed that virus along – through a forwarded email, for example – it could be responsible for the losses of the entity to which it was passed. Hackers could steal information and use it to steal assets from a business, or they could take control of a system and demand money to return control to the business.
- Have a Virtual Private Network, and make sure employees use it.
- Require employees to have up-to-date security and anti-virus software in place.
- Ask your employees not to send business communications from their personal emails, and to shred any documents they need to print out when they are finished with the documents.
- Make sure you have current contact information for every employee so that you can alert them if your system is compromised.
- Have a system in place for employees to report lost or stolen equipment.
- Possibly use a two-factor authentication for all company passwords.
- Consider security protections for mobile devices like phones and tablets.
If hackers get into an individual’s system, they could steal financial information that would make it possible to remove money from bank or investment accounts. They could buy products and have them charged to the victim’s card or account. They could find information about home security systems, and more.
There are several insurance carriers that offer commercial cyber-crime insurance to protect against losses from cyber-crime. Some personal lines carriers also offer coverage under a homeowner’s plan. We at The Bensman Group are happy to discuss your options with you. We also can help you understand more about the cyber threats, and what you can do to protect yourself. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-572-0820.