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COVID-19 And Cybersecurity In 2020

Since the spring of 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic has swept across the globe and changed the face of the world, as we knew it. In response, President Donald Trump and his task force instituted new policies and methods that American citizens have taken part in, in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the United States.

Among these new policies and methods being practiced by American citizens and businesses, is mandatory work from home orders for existing and new employees. This opens businesses as well as employees up to potential negative vulnerabilities when they use a high speed internet service connected to their computer.  Certain levels of susceptibility that already existed within cybersecurity prior to the outbreak are now exacerbated!

Health Care Security Breach

Major problems exist in the healthcare services in the United States, particularly patient safety, as a result of the pandemic and already existing cyber insecurity. Scammers and hackers are taking full advantage of the crisis, knowing there are drastic increases in patient activity in Hospitals across the nation.

Cyber criminals have been relentlessly targeting smaller medical providers using the Ransomware software. Ransomware is a dangerous malware, which compromises vital documentation, and either publishes the stolen data, or blocks access to it indefinitely. Cyber criminals utilize this software to extort money from medical providers via online programs!

Increases in medical cases mean more time, effort and attention being paid by medical personnel to patients. Cyber criminals are well aware of this fact, and use that to their advantage when attacking medical providers across the United States. Another major problem these cyber criminals could potentially cause, are slowdowns with COVID-19 vaccine research and development.

Citizens In Panic Mode

Aside from all of the problems listed so far, Americans are in a panic due to COVID-19. Very often, where there is panic, there are also rumors and a plethora of disinformation. It doesn’t take very much for a piece of false information to go viral on social media platforms and become a temporary reality for people who believe that information.

FEMA, which stands for Federal Emergency Management Agency, runs an online portal which tracks and counters false rumors in an effort to stifle cyber criminal’s attempts to monetize COVID-19 with scams. On top of that, some of these false stories and conspiracy theories have been reported by reputable news outlets, as well as celebrity social media accounts.

Conspiracy Theories

Some of these conspiracy theories, relating to 5G connectivity, bio weaponry laboratories and Bill Gates, have resulted in panic driven actions from some people. Most of these actions are relatively harmless, like stock piling toilet paper. Other actions are completely insane and dangerous like the burning the United Kingdom’s 5G cell towers.

The Dangers Of Remote Software

The COVID-19 crisis has also created piracy issues through work from home connections. For many companies, having their employee’s transition from the office to their own homes can be tricky and involves implementing new software to facilitate the changes. With software that companies are relatively unfamiliar and inexperienced with, room for cyber terrorism exists.

Many of these companies have already exhibited a less than stellar track record with privacy to begin with, so several Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or (HIPAA) restrictions have been waived in certain instances. As a result, doctors have begun utilizing programs like Skype or Zoom, as well as other remote video programs to speak with their patients.

Remote video chatting is a good thing as it decreases doctor/patient chances of exposure to COVID. On the other hand, conversations between patients and doctors are in danger of potential unwanted guests listening in on the calls. This is called “Zoom-Bombing”, cyber criminals have hacked the software and are able to harass zoom conference calls that may not be password protected.

Unwanted guests in conference calls present a danger in sensitive and vital information being leaked. Whether it is civilian, United States government actions, personal health information or even social security numbers, it’s a very scary thought knowing there are cyber terrorists out there working to capture information!

Vital Information Leaked

United States government initiatives, such as plans to continue to work during the crisis while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, have actually emerged from the private sector.

It’s no secret that the internet has become a primary and essential tool for Americans who are experiencing physical isolation during the COVID-19 crisis. Most people consider broadband internet service as the one single tool that the majority of Americans are relying on to work, attend college, do their shopping and keep in touch with relatives and friends. Some companies are keeping their heads above water by enabling their employee’s to perform their normal work duties from home.

The unfortunate side of things is that approximately 42 million Americans are without the ability to take advantage of these opportunities, as they do not have access to high speed internet. However, United States networks are experiencing a huge, sustained spike in internet traffic due to policies that force Americans to stay in their homes.

Life Goes On Remotely

There are many companies and universities that are utilizing video conferencing software, which requires many things to operate and function effectively. Part of the equation includes high upload speeds and proper bandwidth. Poor internet connections or massive surges in internet traffic are sure to cause outages and delays, which in turn causes severe problems for the United States economy.

It’s next to impossible to maintain productivity, if you’re even able to work at all, under these parameters. What makes these scenarios even worse, adding infrastructure loads, sometimes causes internet service providers to pick and choose which internet traffic is more important. The obvious down side being that parts of the United States economy end up unable to function due to gross misuse of the United States net neutrality regulations.

Mitigating The Crisis

The United States government has been hard at work in their efforts to minimize damage done on a local and federal level. Thus far, all efforts to thwart the growing cybersecurity issues have been mostly reactive rather than proactive. The government needs to find a way to engage with the public more through social media outlets, and should focus less on streaming services via the private sector.

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