Beware an online virus

Staying digitally secure during COVID-19

We’ve all been forced into far greater use of the online space by the requirements of working from home and social distancing, during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The innovation by software developers has been outstanding, in delivering platforms we can use to work remotely and catch up virtually.  Unfortunately, the innovation of scammers and hackers is also at an all-time high.

While online tools are helping businesses keep functioning during this crisis period, it’s important to be aware that a data breach could cripple your business. Scammers and hackers use every opportunity to target you, when times are tough and you’re vulnerable, and the current COVID-19 crisis provides a rich environment for them. They are preying on the fact that people are often operating in unfamiliar online environments, employing new product delivery options, as well as searching for information regarding to the Coronavirus.  In this environment, it’s easy to make a mistake and click on a link that allows a virus or malware onto a computer, perhaps placing your entire online system, and all your businesses data, at risk.

Avoiding scams and identity theft isn’t easy. But you can protect your business, financial and personal information by taking precautions and being hyper-aware of what you do:

  • Secure your physical business premises and ensure no one has access to your snail mail, or other information, that could provide them with a key to your online business.
  • Secure your systems by using strong, secure and frequently-changed passwords.
  • Ensure all your devices have the latest security updates
  • Use a spam filter on your email accounts
  • Secure your wireless network.
  • Train your staff on the basics of online security and ensure that if they are working from home, they have all the appropriate firewalls, virus and malware checkers on any device being used at work.
  • Back up your businesses files and data to an off-site storage every night.
  • Monitor your financial accounts for unusual activity or transactions.
  • Don’t download programs or open attachments you’re unsure of.
  • Be careful which emails you open. If you don’t know the sender, don’t open it.
  • If you recognise the sender and think a link is legitimate, hover your mouse over the link to see where it will send you. If it doesn’t look like where you’d expect, don’t click.  Pick up the phone to confirm from the sender that it’s legitimate.
  • And critically at this time, protect your myGovID by using the security features in your device such as fingerprint, face or password.

Not all malware comes to you via your computer. We are increasingly used to receiving SMS communications from all types of companies, and scammers are playing on this.  Examples of known SMS phishing scams are:

Coronavirus testing message looking like it is coming from the Australian Government. 

Notification of a tax refund – supposedly coming from the ATO

Post bushfire crisis scam – offering 8% bonus on tax returns for victims – supposedly coming from the Australian Government.

Australia Post scam – where you are told there is a parcel being delivered and to click on the link for details.

If you identify a scam, report it to the organisation that it purports to come from.  This will allow them to warn their customers to look out for it, and will also allow their digital security division to investigate and hopefully unearth the scammers.

At the end of the day, good online practices, up-to-date virus protection software and a heightened sense of awareness will go a long way to keeping your computer, your servers and your business safe.