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
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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

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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