Beware! Hackers Using the COVID-19 Crisis as Opportunity
March 16, 2020
By: Neil C. Brown
As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates in the United States, it appears that hackers are using the crisis as an opportunity to exploit victims. The United States Department of Health and Human Services was the victim of a cyber-attack that occurred on March 16, 2020.1 Additionally, in recent weeks, various businesses and consumers have reported an increase in COVID-19-related “phishing” attempts.2
To combat hackers during this especially sensitive time, businesses should consider implementing the following steps:
- Ensure employees are vigilant of emails that come from external sources. As many businesses shift towards remote work, hackers may solicit information from – or send downloadable malware to – employees under the guise of “setting up” remote workstations;
- Proactively send employees a notice of the timeline and expected action regarding changes from usual business practices;
- Designate a dedicated point of contact for employee cybersecurity communications, if one does not already exist;
- Ensure sensitive information is protected by a cyber security program that meets industry standards;
- Conduct a risk assessment of potential cyber liabilities;
- Determine whether the company has adequate cyber-liability insurance; and
- Should a breach or security incident occur, consult with legal counsel regarding necessary action steps.
Businesses must rise to the challenge to overcome hacking threats during this vulnerable time by being both informed and prepared.
1 Bloomberg Law News, U.S. Health Agency Suffers Cyber-Attack During Covid-19 Response, March 16, 2020.
2 See, e.g., Forbes, Coronavirus Scam Alert: Watch Out For These Risky COVID-19 Websites And Emails, March 12, 2020, available at https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2020/03/12/coronavirus-scam-alert-watch-out-for-these-risky-covid-19-websites-and-emails/#e5b09861099f