Cyber Security During Covid-19

Covid-19 has turned our world upside down. Our lives are now spent at home and online more than ever before. While we are staying in, doing our best not to spread the virus to those around us, we can not forget that our online presence may also be vulnerable! In times of uncertainty, there are always those who are there to help, and, unfortunately, those who take their cue to prey on those at risk. 

With an unprecedented amount of people working from home the government warns that mobile devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets etc.) are attractive targets for those trying to gather information.

A compromised device has the potential to allow unauthorized access to your network, putting not only yourself, but the organization you work for, at risk.

A September 2020 Statistics Canada study found 42 per cent of Canadians said they had experienced at least one type of cybersecurity incident since the beginning of the pandemic, including phishing attacks, malware attacks, fraud attempts and hacked accounts. Among those reporting experiencing cybersecurity incidents, 36 per cent experienced a loss of time, data or finances as a result of the incident! Whether these were personal or work related they could have been largely avoided with good cyber hygiene. 

The government of Canada has outlined some simple steps for good cyber hygiene during the pandemic: 


  • Use unique passphrases and complex passwords
  • Apply updates to your mobile devices, computers, and applications
  • Store your data securely and know your backup procedures
  • Secure your social media and email accounts


  • Use a PIN or password to access the device and change these passwords regularly
  • Disable features not in use such as GPS, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi
  • Avoid opening files, clicking links, or calling numbers contained in unsolicited text messages or emails
  • Maintain up-to-date software, including operating systems and applications
  • Do not use “Remember Me” features on websites and mobile applications — always type in your ID and password
  • Encrypt personal or sensitive GC data and messages
  • Understand the risks, keep track of your devices, and maintain situational awareness
  • Review and understand the privacy and access requirements of all apps before installing them on mobile devices
  • Delete all information stored on a device prior to discarding it
  • Do important tasks, like online banking on a private or known trusted network


  • Try using a memorable phrase to create a stronger password using a mix of characters. For example, phrase:
    “My jersey number when I played sports was 27!”
    PASSWORD: Mj#wIpsw27!
  • Be wary of your surroundings and always shield your keyboard or keypad when entering your password
  • Use different passwords for work and home accounts
  • Do not write your passwords under a keyboard, on sticky notes next to a computer or save them on the device itself as these are common places to look for passwords
  • If at any time you suspect that your password may have been compromised, act quickly and change it
  • Change passwords after returning from travel


  • Use a unique password for every account
  • Ensure all available security and privacy options have been applied on your account
  • Review your account’s website security and privacy policies regularly for changes
  • Be careful when accessing unknown website links or attachments
  • Report any suspected security incidents to your IT support team
  • Use judgement when posting personal information on social media platforms for both privacy and cyber security reasons

To learn more about cyber security, check out our video about spotting scams.

Author: NorthernBirchCU

A co-operative financial institution based out of Toronto, Ontario.

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