Maintaining good Cyber Hygiene during COVID-19

The COVID-19 virus is continuing to impact the world in an extraordinary way, shutting down schools, cities and in some cases entire countries. The unfamiliarity of this virus is causing fear and uncertainty worldwide. It is now more important than ever to remain cautious and remember to follow guidelines for both personal and cyber hygiene. 

The response for the COVID-19 virus in Guyana is being led by The Ministry of Public Health, with support from PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) and WHO (World Health Organization). For more information on COVID-19, please visit the following websites:


Beware of Fake News

As the world is fighting against COVID-19, a considerable amount of youth and adults may be affected by misinformation and fake news about the virus. The World Health Organization has termed it an “infodemic” since there is a vast amount of information, some accurate and some not. This makes it harder for persons to find reliable and trustworthy sources for information. Verify any information or claims online by cross-referencing it with the information provided by trusted websites such as the World Health Organization, Ministry of Public Health, and the Pan American Health Organization etc.


Beware of Fake Emails

Cyber criminals are exploiting the vulnerable public during this time by launching massive phishing campaigns. Phishing is the act of sending emails or messages that appear to be from a legitimate source but contain dangerous attachments or links. When a user opens the attachment or link, they are often either tricked into divulging personal information (passwords and other sensitive information) or routed to a website with malicious software which an attacker could use in an attempt to gain unauthorized access to or otherwise compromise computer systems.


Ways to protect yourself

Here are some ways to protect yourself and your devices from malware and phishing attempts:

Against Malicious Emails

  • Make sure the address and/or attachment(s) are relevant to the content of the email.
  • Make sure you verify the sender of an email.
  • Look for typographical errors.
  • Be very cautious if you are asked for personal or financial information.
  • Be very cautious if the tone of the email is urgent. It is better to verify with the sender using another contact method such as a phone number.

Against Malicious Attachments

  • Make sure the sender’s email address has a valid username and domain name. To test if a website or domain name is trustworthy, please use the following tool: https://www.urlvoid.com/
  • If you were not expecting an attachment, verify it with the sender.
  • Use Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware software on computers.

Against Malicious Websites

  • Make sure web addresses are spelled correctly. Malicious actors usually make a minuscule change to a web address so that it resembles an authentic website, e.g. Facebook.com (legit) vs. Faceb0ok.com (untrustworthy).
  • Directly type the web address in the search bar instead of clicking the link provided.
  • Hover your mouse over a hyperlink so you can verify whether it will direct you to the correct website. 

 

Here are some more ways to remain safe on the internet:

  • Use unique passphrases and complex passwords. More information on creating a strong password can be found in the following security tip from the Get Safe Online (Guyana) website: https://www.getsafeonline.gy/protecting-your-computer/passwords/#
  • Update your devices and applications to the latest version released by the product manufacturer. More information on updating software can be found in the following security tip from the Get Safe Online (Guyana) website: https://www.getsafeonline.gy/software/software-updates/
  • Store your data securely and ensure you have adequate backup procedures.
  • Secure your social media and email accounts.

Stay Cybersafe!


References

  • Cyber Hygiene For COVID-19. (2020, March 18). Retrieved from Canadian Centre for Cyber Security: https://www.cyber.gc.ca/en/guidance/cyber-hygiene-COVID-19
  • https://www.unicef.org/moldova/en/press-releases/cyber-hygiene-very-important-just-proper-handwashing. (2020, March 31). Retrieved from Unicef: https://www.unicef.org/moldova/en/press-releases/cyber-hygiene-very-important-just-proper-handwashing
  • Organization, W. H. (2020). Novel Coronavirus(2019-nCoV) Situation Report - 13.
  • Umeda, C. (2020, March 31). For Coronavirus, Take Care of Personal and Cyber Hygiene. Retrieved from Security Boulevard: https://securityboulevard.com/2020/03/for-coronavirus-take-care-of-personal-and-cyber-hygiene/