Staying Safe Online During a Pandemic.
Emily D. Baker
From Zoom Bombing to security breaches with the SBA, the Coronavirus Pandemic has created the perfect environment for computer crime, identity theft, and general shenanigans. I mean everything is super weird right now, people are stressed and there are over 17 million Americans applying for unemployment benefits, this doesn’t even get into how many businesses are applying for SBA loans through either the PPP program or the EIDL.
Here is the thing when you have a whole bunch of people stressed and trying to navigate things they haven’t done before it’s the perfect opportunity for fraud, computer intrusion, and other forms of theft, identity theft, and bullshit like Zoom Bombing. It’s really hard to slow down and focus on protecting yourself during this time, but you also really don’t have the time to unwind identity theft right now either.
SBC Data Breach
When the SBA announced it’s security breach I wasn’t surprised. Overwhelmed systems are a great opportunity for hackers to take advantage of. Combine that with a workforce largely working remotely and aging government tech powering these systems and it’s almost too easily done. Then you have the fact that you know when people are going to be submitting their information, all their information….social security information, banking information, addresses, licenses…it’s everything you need to either sell profiles on the dark web or perpetrate identity theft. This is why the major credit agencies are allowing weekly credit checks for free through April 2021 and you should take them up on it.
It’s not all identity theft online these days. As most of us move online for work and school video conferences have become essential. Zoom, one of the most popular conferencing services publicly offered free options with extended capabilities to schools and school-age children. With that came, the quick overwhelm of the technology and zoom bombings of everything from classroom meetings to Congressional committee meetings.
What to Do
SO…what do you do to stay safe online right now? First, make sure the websites where you are entering data are the actual website you think they are. Expand the full site in the address bar so you know you are actually on the site. If you are trying to reach a government site it’s a .gov address. Second, Government agencies aren’t going to call you to ask for more information. They use the mail. Do not give that information over the phone. For that matter, no one is going to call and offer you money, help you get your stimulus check, or qualify for an SBA loan. Third, if you can use a VPN like Express VPN to try to keep your computer safe. Finally, be very careful with email attachments, it is one of the most common ways computers are infected with bots and backdoors.
Stay safe out there and if you want a more in-depth exploration of this topic and others check out the Emily Show Podcast.
LAST UPDATED: April 29, 2020
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