Social distancing is the order of the day, causing millions of people around the world to work from home to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Working remotely means that you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to cyberattacks because cybercriminals are pulling out all the stops to try and trick you into clicking on and sharing information that could do more harm than good.
This handy guide from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) will equip you to spot any potential cyberattacks and ensure that the university network and your data remain protected.
YOU are our number one form of defence
ICTS has put numerous security measures in place to ensure that you have what’s needed to prevent cybercriminals from gaining unauthorised access to the UCT network.
During this time, you are going to receive many emails from UCT, colleagues, contacts and organisations whose mailers you have subscribed to. It’s imperative to always assess each email to ensure that it’s legitimate before acting. If you’re unsure, contact the sender directly to verify the email and the request. Cybercriminals like to add an element of urgency to their requests to get you to act without thinking.
When you receive ‘urgent’ emails, always check the following first:
If these all look correct but you’re still unsure, contact the sender directly to confirm their request. Rather err on the side of caution.
Cybercriminals love to send attachments that contain malware or bugs that can infect your computer. This may then provide them access to the UCT network and spread viruses to your colleagues. If you’re not expecting an attachment, or if the link has a completely different URL when you hover over it, contact the sender to verify its legitimacy.
Avoid those too-good-to-be-true lottery winner notifications or messages informing you that you’ve won a free trip, particularly if you haven’t entered any related competitions. Don’t click on the link. Don’t open the attachment. Delete the email and move on.
Go big at home to protect your network
One of the key tools you will need to work from home is wireless access – whether it is through fibre, ADSL, LTE or a mobile wireless router. Whatever the solution, use ICTS’s recommended steps below to ensure it is secure.
Complex passwords rules
Passwords are the keys to vast amounts of information. This information is important to cybercriminals as it can be used to steal your data, identity and hard-earned money. By keeping your password secure, you can prevent this from happening to you.
Make your password secure by considering the following tips:
Updates are key
Computer or mobile devices often require updates and, in most cases, people choose to either ignore or postpone. These vital updates ensure that your device, operating system and software are protected against possible cyberattacks and often contain fixes to bugs in previous editions.
Don’t postpone. Update your software regularly to ensure that your data and device are safe.
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COVID-19 is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March 2020 and to implement a national lockdown from 26 March 2020.
UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated regularly with the latest COVID-19 information. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change depending on current lockdown regulations.
In an email to the UCT community, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said:
“COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is a rapidly changing epidemic. [...] Information [...] will be updated as and when new information becomes available.”
We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.