Cyber security concerns grow because of COVID-19

Auckland – The corona virus (COVID-19) is causing increased cyber security concern with more people having to work from home, New Zealand Health IT chief executive Scott Arrol says.

A growing number of organisations, businesses and people are using their laptops and other devices working from home because of the virus threat. This has increased the risk of security breaches that can cause the loss of data, breaches of privacy and holding systems to ransom, Arrol says.

NZ Health IT urges those who use IT devices at home to take the necessary steps to protect their devices, from cyber criminals, especially if they are on a network not directly controlled by their business.

“It is understandable people will want or have to work from home during the virus outbreak but there must also be a best practice approach to enabling and using technology, so it remains safe and secure to do so.

“Using off the shelf solutions is okay but these mustn’t be allowed to interfere with or breach an operating system’s protocols.  The presence of unsecured IoT devices in homes also raises security concerns.

“NZ Health IT (NZHIT) supports and encourages the use of digital tech to enable remote working and accessing virtual healthcare services but this must be approached in a methodical and security first manner.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has seen an increase of opportunistic cyber scam campaigns where, such as emails being received purporting to have extremely important information to keep safe and include a link or attachment for more information to be accessed.

“Clicking on the link or attachment can be highly risky and people must only do so where the message has been received from a trusted source.”

In the US, a Washington State agency has reported a phishing campaign where cyber criminals impersonate health officials encouraging users to click a link for solutions which leads to the download of malware, with potential compromise of the device and associated workplace systems.

Arrol strongly advises the public to go through authorised websites for up to date and trusted information such as Health Navigator and the Ministry of Health NZ.

“By doing this we are taking responsibility for keeping abreast of the latest information, advice on hygiene methods, symptoms, travel and isolation advice.  As much as possible it is important to take the pressure off medical centre phone lines or waiting rooms by staying as informed as possible whilst being cyber safe at the same time, Arrol says.

“Taking this approach helps to prevent the ability for cyber criminals to take advantage of the fears and doubts that can build up in the absence of sound information and advice.

“With more people likely to work from home in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, now is the time for companies and organisations to review their security procedures related to remote access in office systems,” Arrol says.

For further information contact Make Lemonade NZ editor in chief Kip Brook on 027 030188

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