Besides the threat of COVID-19 itself, 2020 has seen a terrifying increase in scams and hacks, with criminals exploiting fear of the virus to trick people into sharing personal data. There’s never been a more critical time to educate yourself about maintaining data privacy and cybersecurity.
You may feel like you’ve already amassed the common sense to protect your data, or you may have no idea what security measures you should even start taking. Either way, it is essential to consider that scammers and hackers are professionals in extracting personal data and successfully target individuals on a daily basis. By taking the necessary steps, you can avoid becoming just another statistic victim.
Speaking to the Irish Data Protection Commission, they have helped provide the following eight ways to protect your data during the COVID-19 outbreak.
1) “Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments that you are unsure of.”
This advice is centuries old and may seem like common sense; however, you should consider that COVID-19 related links are more likely to attract victims – especially if perceived to be from someone you trust. The Data Protection Commission advises readers to: “In particular, beware of attachments that you did not expect.
Even if the link or attachment looks believable, it’s essential to remember that “the text displayed for a link may look like a legitimate URL, but the link when clicked on may lead somewhere else,” says the Privacy Commission. data.
Too often we are guilty of barely skimming through privacy policies before ticking “read”. However, especially when you are now more likely to provide health data and make remote payments online, now is a great time to break the habit.
“Be sure who your personal data is shared with, where it will be stored or processed, where it will be stored and processed, and for what purposes it will be used,” the Data Protection Commission said. After all, even if the recipient is trustworthy or connected to an established company, they are still responsible for the hack and the data protection failure. Before clicking the box to confirm, make sure you trust the privacy policies in place to protect your data.
3) “Make sure you have up-to-date anti-virus or online security software.”
Although you may have anti-virus or online security software, making sure they stay up-to-date is essential to ensure your device is protected.
“Make sure the device you use for video calls has the necessary updates,” warns the Data Protection Commission – which applies especially to those who use different devices for school, the college or work. Although some devices are more often overlooked than others: “Remember that smartphones just need virus and malware protection these days, just like laptops or desktops.”
4) “Use work rather than personal email accounts for work-related emails.”
Again, this advice is equally applicable to students who communicate with teachers and lecturers via email. By using separate email accounts for personal data, work and school/university, you reduce the risk of your security being breached.
When using email to communicate in general, the Data Protection Commission advises to “ensure that content and attachments are encrypted and to avoid using personal or confidential data in email lines. object”.
5) “Make sure your device is used in a safe place.”
This advice may seem out of place during the COVID-19 lockdown. However, if you work with sensitive personal data, JThe Data Protection Commission advises to “minimize who else can see the screen”.
This advice is transferable when attending video calls and conferences – “keep an eye on what (or who) can be seen from your camera”, says the Data Protection Commission, “be sure to log out, to mute or turn off the video, as appropriate, when you are leaving or taking a break.”
6) “Try to use services you know and trust.”
This tip can apply to the majority of online services, including clothing websites and apps. However, the Data Protection Commission suggests that you pay particular attention to the services you use “for video conferencing or video calls”.
Services recommended to you by an employer or teacher are likely to be safe, but don’t underestimate the power of your own research. There has been a rise in malicious apps, such as knockoffs of the COVID-19 tracking app, designed to extract users’ personal data.
7) “When you plan to share personal data with a trusted recipient via an app, website, SMS or email, make sure it is them.”
A standard method of extorting personal data is to provide fake contacts disguised as trusted recipients. “Make sure it is with them that you are sharing personal data, and not just an app, website, phone number or email address, which is disguised to look like theirs,” he said. said the Data Protection Commission.
Look for signs of illegitimacy, such as major grammatical errors in the text, broken English, poor online reviews, or a mobile phone number as opposed to a business number provided in contact information.
8) “Always consider who you share your personal data with.”
Finally, the key to avoiding scams and hackers is always to consider who you share personal data with.
“Aim to limit your sharing of personal data (such as health data),” suggests the Data Protection Commission, even when dealing with trusted recipients such as “government departments, public health officials or health professionals”.
The fewer people come into contact with your data, the less likely you are to fall victim to scams or hackers. If you don’t give out your details to strangers on the street, don’t give them online access.
At a time when the focus is on preventing physical health risks, don’t neglect your online protection against COVID-19 scams. Trust your instincts if something doesn’t seem legitimate and consider the potential consequences before providing access to personal data.