It’s not safe to use your personal email for work-related matters. (Shutterstock/File) - With the public having been urged to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, many are probably unaware that they’re more vulnerable to digital security risks than when they’re at the office, particularly from scams.

Google recently stated that it “blocks more than 100 million phishing emails” daily, and that during the early week of April, it had also recorded “18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19”. As we are probably going to work from home for a while, here are some ways to improve your digital security during the COVID-19 pandemic as advised by Google:

Know your enemies

Various types of phishing emails have been used to trap people, including from those pretending to be representatives of health organizations or local administrations. The scammers pretend to be selling medical equipment or offering financial help from banks or investors, only to steal their victim’s financial information. They can also pose as non-profit organizations seeking to raise funds for COVID-19.

Hence, it's important to check your emails carefully and do some research on the organizations that may be being impersonated.

When it comes to fundraising related to COVID-19, it’s always best to check the fundraiser’s website instead of clicking on the link provided in the email.

Always be aware if the email asks for your private information, such as your address or bank account details. Fake links usually bear resemblances to original web address but with words or letters that may appear like a typo.

To check the link’s safety and authenticity, you can move your cursor above the link, while smartphone users can tap and hold on to the link a bit longer.

Work emails should be used for work only

It’s not safe to use personal emails for work-related matters. “That’s quite risky because there’s a risk of impersonation,” said Mark Risher, Google's Account Security senior director. “[Personal email accounts] may not use the company’s security policy. So we’re against that.”

Conduct safe videoconferencing

Videoconferencing apps have been widely used during this time of physical distancing to conduct meetings or communicate with other people. The security features of Google’s video conferencing tool Google Meet, for instance, are always activated by default. Those using other apps should follow several steps, such as activating passwords to ensure that the videoconference can only be accessed by those invited, and always checking the authenticity of the videoconference invitation, especially if it requires you to install a new app.

Those who hold videoconference meeting for wider audiences should activate the “waiting room” feature to be able to manually filter the participants.
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