A few months ago, nobody knew about Coronavirus. As far as the average person in the United States was concerned, it didn’t exist and didn’t pose a major threat to U.S. citizens. Today, almost everyone in the world is affected by it. Whether you’re stuck at home in quarantine or watching the volatility in your stock portfolio, you know that COVID-19 is impacting daily life on a global scale.
Unfortunately, events like the Coronavirus pandemic open the door for opportunists with bad intentions. Many people stand to gain from tragedy, and this is especially true for hackers. Before COVID-19, cybersecurity was already a major concern for governments, businesses, and individuals. Now, the threat of a major data breach is greater than ever.
COVID-19 increases the threat of data breaches in a number of ways. First and foremost, the virus (and the economic recession that followed) have put financial strains on both individuals and institutions. When funds are scarce, people tend to make cuts to things that do not meet their immediate needs. As a result, cybersecurity often falls by the wayside during tough times like these.
When people make cuts to their cybersecurity budget, they make their data more vulnerable to hackers and malware. For example, if you are the owner of a small brick-and-mortar business, you’ve probably experienced reduced income since the beginning of the pandemic. Many states have implemented stay-at-home orders, keeping consumers from purchasing many goods and services.
Many consumers are experiencing a similar reduction in income due to job loss. In turn, your business will have to make cutbacks, as consumers simply cannot spend as much as they could before the virus hit. To avoid shutting your doors for good, you’ll probably feel obligated to cut back on cybersecurity software or online security solutions for your business. Unfortunately, with increasing reports of phishing attempts, this cut, combined with the public fear of the pandemic, puts your business at an even greater risk of a major data breach.
COVID-19 has also opened the door for scammers and hackers to intervene with government funds. Millions of U.S. citizens are now relying on stimulus checks and unemployment benefits from the government. However, several reports indicate that stimulus check scams are on the rise. This means that people will need to take the necessary precautions to ensure that their funds are not stolen via online scams, malware, or malicious hackers.
Finally, COVID-19 has reignited the debate over the government’s role in tracking its own citizens. While few would disagree that COVID-19 must be contained by the government (local, state, and federal), the way in which the government and major corporations collect data to study the virus’ spread is extremely controversial.
The U.S. government collects data on citizens every day, sometimes with the help of major corporations. Most recently, experts have approved a new way for Apple and Google to track the Coronavirus within the United States. Though this may help slow the spread of the virus, it does little to ease consumer anxiety over data privacy.
There are a few ways for you to limit outside access to your personal information like a Virtual Private Network (VPN), network firewall, anti-malware and anti-virus software, and two-factor authentication on your accounts and hardware. However, these methods can only do so much if you want to protect your data from the government or large, third-party organizations like Apple and Google.
Thus, COVID-19 has shown us the weaknesses in our current cybersecurity measures. Some people lack the funds or technical knowledge to adequately protect their own data. Others simply have no choice but to hand their information over to the government and large corporations.
In any case, the current situation makes the protection of private data more complex than ever before. Hopefully, the threat of COVID-19 will pass and things will return to “normal” for businesses and individuals, but for now, you must educate yourself on the most up-to-date cybersecurity protocols. This is the only way to protect your data and avoid an online security breach.
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