COVID-19 Citizen Cyber Threat Bulletin
April 1, 2020: COVID-19 has increased the cybersecurity vulnerability of Florida citizens. Here are key concerns and tips to reduce the cyber threat to citizens:
- The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significantly increased online activity with the bulk of business, government, and academic activities having to be conducted online. For example, the University of South Florida has moved approximately 7,000 courses to online delivery.
- The resulting increase in online activity presents a significantly larger “attack surface” for cybercriminals and nation-states to exploit.
- The federal government has not issued a single “stimulus check” from the new Coronavirus Relief Act, but scammers are already trying to steal money from Americans using phishing (fake) emails and social media posts that request personal information and fees in order to access stimulus payments.
- Just as some basic measures are recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as hand washing and social distancing, Cyber Florida recommends the following basic cyber hygiene measures for individuals and organizations to help reduce the chance of being victimized by cybercrime.
- Update your computer operating system (such as Windows) and anti-virus regularly. Microsoft and anti-virus vendors are monitoring for COVID-19 malware and threats to release patches and updates to keep your computer safe.
- Be cautious of phishing emails, text messages, and phone calls asking for personal information, payment or some type of time-sensitive action. Cyber criminals are using fake emails, phone calls and even fake COVID-19 maps to infect your computer and take advantage of the situation.
- Use unique and strong passwords with multi-factor authentication. Strong passwords, unique passwords help secure your account. Using unique passwords for each of your accounts helps protect your accounts if one of your passwords become compromised.
- Use your company’s virtual private network (VPN), if provided. Virtual private networks provide a secure connection between your computer and your company to keep your information more secure.
For more insight on COVID-19-related cyber threats and recommended mitigation steps, please visit Cyber Florida’s online COVID-19 Cybersecurity Advisory Center at https://cyberflorida.org/cac.
Cyber Florida, hosted by the University of South Florida, is charged by the State of Florida to promote cybersecurity education, research, and outreach.