With large numbers of people working from home, this is a perfect time for the cyber criminals to strike. There were over 3,000 websites registered with the word “Coronavirus” or “Covid” in a single day. Unfortunately, a large sum of these are scamming sites hoping to trick you out of your money or personal details.
If you work in a large organisation, and have a laptop supplied by the IT department, then there should already be security policies in place. The IT department will remain paranoid, but at least there’s someone paying close attention all the time. However, if you’re in a small company working from home on your own computer, then you are at risk. I did mention uBlock Origin as a very effective browser extension in an earlier post, so check that out.
A couple of other tips:
Make sure your Windows or Mac software is up to date. If there’s an update pending, don’t put it off. Update now, enable automatic updates, and keep checking. I cannot over-emphasise this. When a new update comes out that addresses a security issue, the bad guys quickly look for those differences and create malware that tries to hit those that haven’t updated to the latest version.
Make sure your browsers are up to date:
Chrome: click on the three dots at the top right of the window. In the menu go to “Help” and then “About Google Chrome”, and you’ll see a window that will show if you’re up to date. At date of this post the version is “80.0.3987.163”
Firefox: click on three bars at the top right of the window. In the menu go to “Help” then “About Firefox” and you’ll see a window that will show if you’re up to date. At date of this post the version is “74.0.1”
Internet Explorer: This will be updated automatically by the Windows update and you shouldn’t need to do anything. To check, click on small cog wheel at top right and in the menu select “About Internet Explorer”. At date of this post the version is “11.719.18362.0”
Microsoft Edge: This will be updated automatically by the Windows update and you shouldn’t need to do anything. To check, click on the three dots at top right of the window and select “Settings”. In the “General tab”, scroll down to the bottom and the version number is: “44.18362.449.0”
Apple Safari: This will be updated automatically by Apple updates and you shouldn’t need to do anything. To check, click on “About Safari” and the version number should be “13.1 (15609.1.20.111.8)” at the date of this posting
My personal opinion, and I stress this is my personal opinion, is that they are a waste of money. Both Windows and Apple already have many anti-virus and security features – Windows comes with Windows Defender built in. Third party anti-virus software doesn’t help much with current advanced cyber-attacks.
The next one isn’t trivial to do if you’ve already set up your PC or Mac, but I strongly urge you to create a second login that doesn’t have administrative privileges, and then use this login for day-to-day work. This is really worth it. The estimate is that over 95% of all attacks fail if the user does not have administrative rights. If you’re not sure what I mean or how to do this, then search the web for “set up non-administrator account" or equivalent. I know this isn’t easy to do but, is well worth the effort. EVERY large organisation have their PCs and laptops set up this way, and for very good reason.
Finally, be vigilant and sensible. Be careful of clicking on that link in Facebook or the funny story in that email.
- John Stanley