Protecting yourself from cybercrime during the pandemic

Story by Stacie Gaetz


Photos by iStock

For most businesses and industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge they have had to overcome.

However, some industries are growing and profiting due to the pandemic and cybercrime is one of those that is taking full advantage of the situation.

Michael Duffy, a local remote technology expert – otherwise known as “Mike the Nerd” – says that now more than ever, it is important that businesses and residents make cybersecurity a priority.

“There can be many factors and ways cybercriminals can take advantage, which was happening before COVID-19, but is likely more magnified during the pandemic due to a larger target base,” says Duffy, who works with Nerds on Site.

The increase of people working from home on a remote set up creates a greater number of vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to target.

“There is a noticeable spike in online shopping during COVID-19 as well, when people are stuck at home with their credit card ready for a deal,” Duffy adds.

Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the fear and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic as well as the increased time spent online during social distancing to trick people into releasing sensitive information.

“People are more vulnerable at this time in history and they are unsure of what to do and who to trust, so they will gravitate to someone offering ‘help,’” says Duffy.

According to, there has been a huge rise in COVID-19-themed phishing scams where criminals send emails that appear to come from hospitals or government agencies in order to trick people into downloading an attachment or giving them personally identifying information.

Duffy added that many people feel like they would not make a good or worthwhile target because they don’t have much money, but he says, cybercriminals are looking for anyone with personal data, a bank account and/or a credit card. Criminals will even use one person just to access their network of “friends” on social media.

“Cyber criminals don’t see a person, they see data and data is money,” he adds.

According to Nerds on Site, the exact number of compromised businesses and the cost of the breaches during the pandemic won’t be fully understood for some time because the average time it takes to discover a network breach is more than 150 days.

The good news is, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from cybercrime.

Duffy suggests:

  • using strong passwords,
  • regularly changing your password,
  • considering getting rid of old email addresses if you often get spam emails,
  • having your computer, backups and antivirus technology regularly monitored by a trusted technology advisor.

Nerds on Site has also created a “Do Not Talk To Strangers” internet technology that “keeps the devices in your home network or business network safe.”

For more information about cybersecurity solutions from Nerds on Site, click here.

For a list of the common scams put together by the Government of Canada, click here.