Stay secure online during coronavirus

Many of us are spending more time online during the coronavirus outbreak due to working from home, virtual learning or simply to stay connected with family and friends. It has been reported that there has been a significant increase in COVID-19 related cyber crime across the UK, so it is all the more important that we stay safe online and stay cyber aware while staying connected.

Here are some of our top tips for how you and your family can stay secure online during the coronavirus outbreak.

Download all software updates

Software updates contain vital security updates to help protect your devices from cyber criminals. This will protect your device from any malware that is designed to damage your device using COVID-19 as a decoy.

Choose different passwords

Using a different password for all of your accounts or systems is much safer than having one password for everything. You should avoid using personal details, such as your partner's name, pet's name or date of birth, in your passwords as they can be easy to find. Choosing a strong password will keep your accounts safer - one idea is using three random words in each of your passwords, for example Redhousemonkey27.

For email, turning on two-factor authentication will also make sure your data is secure.

If you are in doubt, call it out

Cyber criminals are using coronavirus in emails or text messages to tempt users in to sharing their information. This is known as 'phishing'.

  • Email:  To spot a phishing email, look out for a generic subject header such as '2020 COVID-19 Updates'. Emails may contain a general opening such as 'dear friend', spelling mistakes, poor quality images and have urgent links to click on. If you are uncertain about an email then delete it.
  • SMS:  Criminals are increasingly using text messages that appear to be from UKGOV to scam consumers into sharing their information by asking them to click on a link to a phishing site. Avoid clicking on any links contained within text messages. If you suspect a spam text you can report it to your mobile network provider by forwarding it to 7726.

Update your 'privacy settings' on your social media accounts

Most websites, apps and social networks can share your information. Use and update your privacy settings, this will help you to control what and who you share information with.

  • Remember the basics: Don't accept friend or follower requests from people you don't know.

Always stop, challenge, protect when being asked for your money or information

  • Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? It's ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you've fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

Useful links and resources

For more information and advice for staying cyber aware during the coronavirus outbreak visit the following websites.

  • Take Five - A national campaign that offers straight-forward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud.
  • Cyber Aware - This campaign launched by the National Cyber Security Centre offers advice to residents on how to stay secure online during coronavirus. They have also set up a Suspicious Email Reporting Service, they are urging people to email any suspect emails to: report@phishing.gov.uk
  • Action Fraud - The UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. Victims of fraud or cybercrime can report it using their online reporting service or by calling 0300 123 2040.