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COVID-19

Mass telecommuting is an opportunity for hackers

Scott Tong Mar 16, 2020
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As more people work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, they're more vulnerable to being hacked. Yasin Akgul/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Mass telecommuting is an opportunity for hackers

Scott Tong Mar 16, 2020
As more people work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, they're more vulnerable to being hacked. Yasin Akgul/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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Working from home is the new reality for hundreds of millions of Americans and their companies. That means lots of workers in their studies or kitchen tables are in far more vulnerable cyber environments. And there’s ample evidence the bad guys are out in force.

What’s vulnerable?

The bad guys are great at cracking weak Wi-Fi passwords in your home. And even if your work laptop is secure, parts of your home network are not.

“Unprotected and old printers. There might be older machines that are completely unprotected on the same network,” said Sam Curry at Cybereason. “There’s routers. Many routers are extremely weak and potentially owned and findable by attackers.”

Once they get in, hackers can hunt for your bank passwords. Or sell your data. Or hold it ransom.

They’ll also pounce if you’re not using a virtual private network that encrypts wireless data.

And if you’re at home doing 64 things today, your guard is down when it comes to clicking dodgy emails, said Dave Baggett of cyber security firm INKY.

“There really should be a special place in hell for someone who sends a mail like this: The mail says, ‘Nothing is more important to us than keeping you, our employees, safe,'” he said. “Of course, this is not a real mail from your boss. It’s a scam.”

Security firms are seeing more malicious activity

These days, more scam websites and emails are pretending to be coronavirus related — like that local exposure map that really isn’t, according to Mark Ostrowski at Check Point Security.

“Now we’re seeing campaigns that are originating from the COVID-19 subject line. That’s where we’re going to see more and more,” he said.

Ostrowski said of all the new domains registered for new websites since January, the coronavirus sites are 50% more likely than non-irus sites to be malicious.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

How long will it be until the economy is back to normal?

It feels like things are getting better, more and more people getting vaccinated, more businesses opening, but we’re not entirely out of the woods. To illustrate: two recent pieces of news from the Centers for Disease Control. Item 1: The CDC is extending its tenant eviction moratorium to June 30. Item 2: The cruise industry didn’t get what it wanted — restrictions on sailing from U.S. ports will stay in place until November. Very different issues with different stakes, but both point to the fact that the CDC thinks we still have a ways to go before the pandemic is over, according to Dr. Philip Landrigan, who used to work at the CDC and now teaches at Boston College.

How are those COVID relief payments affecting consumers?

Payments started going out within days of President Joe Biden signing the American Rescue Plan, and that’s been a big shot in the arm for consumers, said John Leer at Morning Consult, which polls Americans every day. “Consumer confidence is really on a tear. They are growing more confident at a faster rate than they have following the prior two stimulus packages.” Leer said this time around the checks are bigger and they’re getting out faster. Now, rising confidence is likely to spark more consumer spending. But Lisa Rowan at Forbes Advisor said it’s not clear how much or how fast.

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