Rep. Katko Issues Cyber Resource Guide for Individuals and Businesses in Central New York Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

March 19, 2020
Press Release

SYRACUSE, NY— Following a recent cyberattack on the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and amidst a growing number of cyber scams aimed at exploiting charitable giving during the Coronavirus pandemic, today U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24), Ranking Member on the House Homeland Security Committee’s Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection & Innovation Subcommittee issued a guide aimed at providing individuals and businesses in Central New York with best practices for staying safe and protecting themselves against cyberattacks and cyber scams.

“The number one priority in Central New York and throughout our country right now is to keep as many people healthy as possible, and away from crowds.  With a growing percentage of our workforce now teleworking, it is critical that individuals and businesses take the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe from cyberattacks.  We have already seen foreign actors use the Coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to launch cyberattacks,” said Rep. Katko. “That’s why, as Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection & Innovation Subcommittee, I’m glad to provide a cyber resource guide to ensure Central New Yorkers have the necessary information and resources to protect themselves against cyber threats.  At a time in which many are being asked to change major aspects of their lifestyles, it is imperative we remain vigilant and protect ourselves against cyber threats.  I will be continuing to work hand in hand with cyber experts and government officials to strengthen our cybersecurity and ensure our nation is protected during these trying times.” 

Rep. Katko’s Cyber Guide can be found here and below: 

Safeguarding Your Information While Teleworking:

With many Central New Yorkers working from home in an effort to limit the spread of the Coronavirus, keep in mind a few tips while teleworking:

  • Make sure your home router is secured with a strong password.
  • Be aware of who has access to your work device and your home network.
  • Use strong passwords on all devices used for work.
  • Ensure you are following your company’s cyber policies when teleworking.
  • Consider enabling two-factor authentication on devices and accounts for greater security.
  • Update anti-virus software and regularly scan for malware.
  • Be wary of increased phishing emails and verify sender before clicking links.

For guidance on implementing a virtual private network (VPN) solution to connect to your organization’s information technology (IT) network, click on the link HERE from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Protecting Small Businesses in Central New York:

Small businesses face unique cybersecurity risks. Amid uncertain times, follow the guidelines below to better protect your business and employees against cyberthreats: 

  • Train all employees on basic security principles and policies before and during telework.
  • Protect information, computers, and networks by having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system.
  • Provide firewall security for Internet connection.
  • Promote the use of password-protection for mobile devices.
  • Create backup copies of important business data and information.
  • Prevent access and use of business computers by unauthorized users.
  • Ensure Wi-Fi networks are secured, encrypted, and hidden.
  • Work with banks and processors to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used.
  • Implement a strong password policy, requiring employees to use unique passwords and change every three months.

For additional guidance from CISA click on the link HERE. For guidance from the U.S. Small Business Administration, click on the link HERE.

Protecting Yourself Against Cyber Scams:

As we have seen, cyber scammers are using the Coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to launch cyber scams. For best practices to avoid falling victim to a scam related to the Coronavirus, follow the tips below:

  • Do not click on links contained in unsolicited emails.
  • Avoid revealing personal or financial information in emails and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.
  • Rely on trusted sources for information related to the Coronavirus.
  • Avoid making charitable donations before verifying the charity’s authenticity.

For more information on avoiding scams, click HERE to see best practices from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Further Information:

For general guidance on practicing good cyber hygiene during the Coronavirus pandemic from CISA, click the link HERE.