How To Protect Yourself from Cyberattacks at Home


Hand holding cell phone on lock screen
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to new cybersecurity threats as more people work from home, children spend more time online and scammers target taxpayers’ stimulus payments.
Cybersecurity expert Dr. Murat Kantarcioglu, professor of computer science at The University of Texas at Dallas, shared some tips for protecting yourself:

Working from Home

Working from home can create new cybersecurity risks as more home computers are logged in to corporate networks and files are shared through cloud-based systems.

  1. Don’t share links or passwords to online meetings or calls.
  2. Set up two-factor authentication to log in to your company’s virtual private meeting and to cloud-storage and file-sharing sites.
  3. Back up and store sensitive documents, such as tax returns, on external encrypted drives only, and encrypt documents when sharing.
  4. Regularly scan your computer for vulnerabilities.
  5. Update your videoconferencing and other important software regularly.
  6. Don’t click any link you don’t trust. Instead, copy the link directly to a browser, and check the website information. For sensitive sites, such as banks, just type the website yourself; never click the link.

COVID-19 Scams

“There are so many different scams happening. They try to scare you, and usually they ask you to pay money,” Kantarcioglu said. “The rule of thumb is: Don’t act on it, and don’t believe it. Do not trust, and always verify.”

  1. Do not trust anyone calling or emailing who says they are from the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS does not communicate by phone or email.
  2. Don’t trust emails requesting money even if they look authentic. If the email claims to be someone you know, call the person first. Check the email via other means, and wait before taking action.
  3. Never share sensitive information such as passwords online or over the phone.

Protecting Kids

Make sure kids understand internet safety.

  1. Know who your child is talking to online. Advise your child to not to talk anyone if he/she does not know that person already in the offline world.
  2. Consider installing child safety software.
  3. Limit time spent online.
  4. Make sure privacy settings are appropriately set on social media apps.
  5. Cover cameras on electronic devices when not in use. “I try to emphasize to my daughter that the cameras you are in front of can be sometimes activated by malware and/or left open accidentally, so act appropriately when sitting in front of a camera, even if you think it’s off,” Kantarcioglu said.

–Kim Horner