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The bug that will get you at home and it is not coronavirus!

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By Ashwin Pal, Director of Cyber Security at Unisys APAC

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the majority of the workforce in corporate India are working remotely. If you happen to be one of those employees who have been recommended to self-isolate due to the ongoing pandemic, you might think you are protected from the virus.

While staying at home might keep you safe from Corona, there are other bugs out there that could get you and not earn you the sympathy of your managers or colleagues.

As the pandemic increases its grip on the globe, employees across the globe are urged to work remotely by their organisations, which includes the likes of Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. While this decreases the probability of the employees being infected by the physical virus, the risk of exposure to cyber-viruses spread by online predators, increases simultaneously.

Online scammers are aware of the fact that there is a rise in unconventional work practices and that there is a huge surge in telecommunication due to the outbreak and they are making the most of this confusion that is introduced in enterprises.

From bogus invitations to meetings, to fake login portals and email scams embedded with malware, employees are potential victims for cybercrimes and the methodologies are getting trickier than ever.

However, it is possible for everyone to shield themselves from cyber-attacks if people adhere to a few simple yet effective tips on how to stay safe.

Keep your applications and devices updated: More importantly, do not download apps from third party app stores.  Purchasing applications from licensed app stories such as iTunes or Google Play Store and updating them regularly will keep your device safe from spam-based viruses. Apps designed to spam you and your contacts while compromising your device, are typically found on third party app stores.

Avoid using websites that are not safe: Make sure that the URL is not HTTP but HTTPS. The ‘S’ means that the data being shared is encrypted and secured, so that only the intended recipient can view it.

Do not fall for fraudulent emails: If you don’t expect an email, ignore it or inform your security or IT team. Never click on a link in an email that you are doubtful of, as such links could lead you to phishing sites that look authentic and could con you into entering your login credentials.

Stay in contact with your fellow workers: Unusual times such as these create a tempting opportunity for scammers who want to play on the human weaknesses of people. They look for a chance to lure the unsuspecting and that could even mean impersonating co-workers to share salacious information, request your secrecy and ask you to conduct unusual activities. Staying in close contact with your co- workers will not only ensure smooth workflow but will also keep you alert to any threat that comes your way.

Do not use public Wi-Fi network for work: Feeding personal or sensitive information using a public network compromises the security of that information. Wi-Fi hotspots typically do not encrypt your information and this could mean a potential leak of your company’s sensitive data, leaving you and your organization vulnerable to data theft as well as open to identity theft. Public Wi-Fi access points could be set up by intruders in order to lure users and steal their data and credentials.

Ensure you back up your data: Things go wrong many a times and the likelihood of it happening always exists. It is essential to back up your data regularly so that your data can be recovered if your computing system gets infected by ransomware spread through spam emails. An added note of caution is to never pay the ransom as there is no assurance that you will get your data back.

Believe your gut feeling: If at any point in time, you feel that something is not quite right, for e.g. a login procedure that requires too many personal details and confidential information or an email id that does not look right – don’t pursue it. Leave the website.

While these times in which we live are unprecedented, there is no need to panic and give in to the chaos. Just be more aware, equipped and calm. Take time to establish trusted sources and continue to exercise the same precautions as you would on a typical workday in the office.

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