COVID-19 Cybersecurity Response Measures

March 16, 2020

2020 has quickly become the year of the Coronavirus. With experts now claiming that containment of Covid-19 is likely impossiblesecurity teams must now prepare for a variety of scenarios.  

Unfortunately, several unscrupulous threat groups are using the crisis to bypass corporate and government cybersecurity controlsincluding phishing attacks with malicious links and email attachments infected with malware and/or ransomware 

iON recommends security teams work with their organizations’ communications departments to advise users to watch out for the following types of emails or phone calls, especially those related to Covid-19, as they are mostly likely fraudulent: 

  • Any message that communicates an extremely high level of urgency. This is a psychological lever that malicious groups pull to compel people into taking a prescribed action. 
  • Any message that pressures recipients into bypassing security or departmental policies and procedures. 
  • Any message claiming to be from, or on behalf of, aofficial or government organization urging recipients to take immediate action. 
  • Any message that promotes a “magic cure” for Covid-19, such as a vaccine or herbal remedy that will protect you. No such substance currently exists. 

For the latest updates on Covid-19we recommend visiting Health Canada’s Coronavirus Outbreak Update website site or the World Health Organization’s Coronavirus Outbreak website.


Bear in mind that Coronavirus scams and attacks are designed to play on people’s emotions and they can happen via email, text, or the phone, at home or at work.  

Finally, in the event that your organization advises large segments of its workforces to work from home for extended periodsnow is a good time to ensure you are prepared to accommodate a much larger number of secure remote connections than usual. 

Considering this possibility, we recommend Network and Security Administrators review their current remote connection capacity to accommodate work-from-home arrangements for the majority of their users. Important questions to consider are: 

  • Do we have the necessary bandwidth? 
  • Do we have the necessary device memory, network, and CPU capacity? 
  • Do we have a sufficient number of licenses? 
  • Do we have the policies in place to ensure every user connects only to the network resources appropriate for them? 
  • Do we need to prioritize access for some segments of users? 
  • Do we have necessary documentation ready that ensures proper usage of remote connections and details unauthorized activity? 

iON acknowledges that these are anxious times, but with adequate planning for this scenario, organizations can avoid being blindsided by a phishing attack or a lack of readiness for an expanded work-from-home policy. Also, events like these can provide an opportunity to reaffirm the working relationship between security and communications departmentsreinforce cybersecurity best practices already in place, and maintain operational continuity during an emergency. 

Senior members of iON’s security team have recently conducted presentations for local clients regarding measures to thwart Coronavirus phishing campaigns, and we can assist organizations with email filter configuration and security awareness or rapid procurement of new firewall remote connection licenses.  


We are here to help if you need us.