March 25, 2020 | Written by: Mari Grini
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Schools, kindergartens, and businesses have closed all over the world. Across continents and countries, people are working remotely in home offices while finding new ways to organize their everyday lives due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The pandemic is changing our interaction patterns, and we are using digital solutions in new ways and to a much greater extent than we have ever done before.
Video conferencing, e-learning solutions, home office, and other communication technologies help us keep the wheels moving. As an example, Deichmann in Oslo, Norway has postponed the opening of a new main library and has informed the public about the app eBokBib to borrow and read e-books.
For IBM, the health of customers, employees, and partners is of the highest priority. As a result of the coronavirus, IBM has, therefore (in line with advice from the World Health Organization) announced that our large global “Think” signature conference will be transformed into a “Digital First” conference. The crisis contributes to innovative ways of interacting, which may even drive ‘green innovation’ that persists even after the crisis is over.
Changed interaction requires a greater focus on IT security
We know that new ways of dealing with technology mean that we also have to think about security in new ways. From experience, we know that crises and major media incidents are ruthlessly exploited by cybercriminals. Because the outbreak of corona triggers considerable fear in the population, naturally, cybercriminals seem to be taking advantage of the fact that many are concerned about obtaining reliable information about the virus.
In Italy, campaigns have just been observed claiming to be from the World Health Organization, but in reality, the e-mails come from cybercriminals aimed at infecting the user’s computer. In Japan, viruses were spread in an e-mail claiming to be from a reliable healthcare provider. A third example is e-mails that were spread and claimed to be from a company that would help prevent coronary infection.
The content of such emails will typically entice the user to click on an attachment, thereby infecting the user’s computer with viruses. Using the computer virus (trojan), cybercriminals can, for example, read keystrokes on the computer, steal files, or access webcam traffic on the infected computer.
We also know that trojans can be used to encrypt all content on the computer with a digital key that the cybercriminals only give to the user after receiving payment, preferably in Bitcoin or other digital currency.
So how can you protect against computer viruses when working remotely?
In a time of new interaction patterns and widespread use of home office and video conferencing, you may want to get some tips on how to secure yourself:
- Use IT tools secured by your employer. Provide good home office security solutions such as up-to-date antivirus software, VPN, backup and two (multi) factor authentication.
- If you use private IT equipment for work, employ a mobile device management solution from the employer to secure the equipment and follow the company’s safety rules.
- Keep all applications, browser and operating systems on your machine up to date.
- Have a healthy skepticism about emails you receive that encourage you to click on links or open attachments.
- Have solutions on your machine that block traffic to malicious URLs. An example of a free tool that blocks known malicious websites is Quad9.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at Mari.Grini@ibm.com