Secure Together: supermarket scams and strengthening your Wi-Fi signal

With new cases of coronavirus in the UK falling consistently, we’re starting to get the first few whispers that lockdown restrictions may soon be eased. But before you get too excited, remember that we’ve not yet met the requirements that would allow the government to relax its rules.

Meanwhile, Germany – which had been handling the coronavirus crisis almost flawlessly until now – has seen a significant bounce in infection rates since allowing small businesses to reopen last week, and is facing the prospect of reinstating a rigorous lockdown.

This suggests that nothing will be changing in the UK any time soon. You can’t argue with that if you think our health should be our top priority, but keeping the status quo will of course continue to affect our jobs, our organisational security and our wellbeing.

Fortunately, we all face the same problems, and hopefully our experiences, advice and guidance can help you cope through the pandemic.

Let’s take a look at what’s been happening this week.

Cyber crime

The coronavirus pandemic has been a mixed bag for supermarkets. On the one hand, March was the most profitable month in their history, with UK shoppers spending £10.8 billion.

But on the other hand, they’ve been under huge stress to keep their shelves stocked, their employees safe and their customers under control.

Now, for Morrisons at least, things have got even tougher, after a scam was discovered supposedly offering customers a £50 voucher.

The fake offer sends victims to a website where they’re asked to fill in their personal details and complete a survey about their shopping experiences at Morrisons.

Once they’ve completed the survey, all the victim needs to do to claim their apparent prize is share the post on Facebook and type ‘thanks’ in the comments field.

Morrisons has warned customers that the scam isn’t genuine, but it’s obviously hard to stem the tide of a scam if enough people have already seen it.

Meanwhile, those who have fallen victim may not be aware that the offer isn’t genuine until their next shop.

An awkward confrontation like that is bad at the best of times, but with queues of people waiting to get inside and everyone trying to abide by social distancing rules, things could get ugly.

Phishing scams

Last week, we mentioned that the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) had created a new service that’s designed to spread awareness of scams cashing in on COVID-19.

But that’s not to suggest that the government’s cyber security agency hadn’t done anything about the threat until now. In fact, the opposite is true.

In a recent announcement, the NCSC said it took down more than 2,000 coronavirus-related scams in March.

This included 471 fake online shops that were selling fraudulent virus-related items, 555 sites that distributed malware and 200 phishing scams.

The fact that the government has set up its Suspicious Email Reporting Service in addition to the work its already done shows how much of a threat coronavirus scams pose.

We are all using the Internet more than ever, as we stay in touch with friends and family online, and are forced to communicate with colleagues remotely too – often on unfamiliar and potentially dangerous platforms such as Zoom.

Expert advice

Do you know someone who, in every video call they’re in, appears heavily pixelated and constantly lagging?

You’d have thought, more than four weeks into the lockdown, everyone would have fixed these problems by now. Video calling doesn’t require that much bandwidth, so there’s no excuse for your connection to be struggling as much as it is.

So what might be the problem? It might simply be that your Internet router is too far away from your laptop, weakening your signal. You can fix this by moving your laptop closer to the router or vice versa.

Another possibility is that you have other devices in your home chewing up your Internet speeds, whether it’s someone streaming a video or another member of your household making a video call at the same time.

If you’ve been noticing problems with your connection, try to find a way to stop other Internet activity when you make a call. This might be a case of asking someone to pause their video for a few minutes or asking your team to change the time of a meeting.

This might seem demanding, but there’s little point attending if communication problems are going to derail the meeting. And if you feel guilty about asking, remember that people are by and large very understanding of the problems that the lockdown is causing and doing what they can to accommodate each other’s needs.

IT Governance employee tips for working from home

Whether you miss the office experience or not, one inconvenience of working from home that we can all agree on is the frequent emails, IMs and video calls.

Virtual correspondences are the only way colleagues can stay in touch, and it often leads to an overload of messages – particularly at lunchtimes and at the end of the day when people make a more concerted effort to be sociable.

That’s obviously to be encouraged, but it can be incredibly distracting if you have an urgent task to complete.

We’ve found that the best way to avoid this problem is to block out time that you need to work as a meeting in your schedule. This will, on most communication platforms, prevent you from receiving any incoming calls, and it should dissuade people from messaging you.

Free resource

As you will have seen first-hand during the coronavirus pandemic, there are many security risks associated with working remotely.

To help you manage these risks, we’ve created a series of free resources that address a variety of issues, including phishing emails and BYOD (bring your own device) policies.

Meanwhile, our COVID-19 – A challenge to business green paper outlines the problems you are likely to face as the lockdown continues and explains the steps you can take to address them.

By downloading this guide, you’ll discover the latest coronavirus-related security threats, examples of security oversights with remote working and practical solutions for protecting your organisation during the pandemic.

Find out more

Coronavirus: your biggest challenge yet

The coronavirus pandemic has presented a huge challenge for organisations, with cyber criminals pouncing on the panic and uncertainty it’s caused.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of ways organisations can commit costly mistakes without the involvement of a criminal hacker.

For example, failing to implement appropriate business continuity plans could cause major delays and employees who struggle with social isolation are prone mistakes that could jeopardise the security of their organisation’s sensitive data.

One virus is enough to contend with. Make sure you’re prepared to tackle whatever else comes your way with our series of packaged solutions, which include tools and services to help you address remote working best practices, network vulnerabilities and a host of other issues.

Find out more


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