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

What’s the latest on the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

As of now, those $600-a-week payments will stop at the end of July. For many, unemployment payments have been a lifeline, but one that is about to end, if nothing changes. The debate over whether or not to extend these benefits continues among lawmakers.

With a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, are restaurants and bars shutting back down?

The latest jobs report shows that 4.8 million Americans went back to work in June. More than 30% of those job gains were from bars and restaurants. But those industries are in trouble again. For example, because of the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, increased restrictions on restaurant capacities and closed bars. It’s created a logistical nightmare.

Which businesses got Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The numbers are in — well, at least in part. The federal government has released the names of companies that received loans of $150,000 or more through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Some of the companies people are surprised got loans include Kanye West’s fashion line, Yeezy, TGI Fridays and P.F. Chang’s. The companies you might not recognize, particularly some smaller businesses, were able to hire back staff or partially reopen thanks to the loans.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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