Cyber security concerns increase during COVID-19 pandemic

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) As many employees continue to work from home since the COVID-19 pandemic began, cyber security has become more important than ever.

AlasConnect, an Information Technology Management company in the state, says they saw a doubling in call volume to their assistance center since the stay-at-home mandates were implemented in late March.

Scammers have been aggressive during the pandemic, taking advantage of people's fears and network insecurities.

Chief Technology Officer of AlasConnect, Rob Thurston, says internet safety differs from your everyday safety.

"We make some assumptions in our daily life around the safety of our experience. It is very safe, generally speaking, to walk down Main Street in most parts of America, [but] that is just not true when we're talking about internet capabilities," said Thurston. "You are under constant threat which is very alien to our day to day life. So, being aware of that and treating the internet in that, kind of, safety-minded manner is very important to for everybody."

Communications Director for the City of Fairbanks, Teal Soden, has been working from home several weeks now, and will continue to do so until at least June.

While working remotely for such a large entity with confidential information, Soden expanded on the importance of cyber security for the City of Fairbanks.

"There have been cases in Alaska where municipalities have lost millions of dollars because their systems have been breached," said Soden. "So, it is very important to look out for scams like that and take extra precautions when it comes to securing information. Anybody that is working from home should be concerned with network security, but especially when you're connected to a network as big as the City of Fairbanks."

Many companies had little to no preparation in moving their employers to remote locations. They had to react quickly to ensure a safe and secure network to work.

"A home network doesn't necessarily have all of the same security characteristics as a corporate IT environment and there is definitely some risk there as you try to facilitate remote work from home for various employees." said Thurston.

Thurston described some of the security threats AlasConnect has encountered over recent months.

"We have seen an uptick in various forms of phishing scams and other social engineering scams, often times based around the cases where you have tech support organization sending out emails, so you have scammers trying to send out similar emails to trick somebody into establishing a remote connection for fraudulent support or otherwise comprise the work station." Thurston added.

Basic cyber security tips Thurston suggests are to be careful what information you put on social media, which ads you click on and be weary of phishing emails that look like familiar contacts.

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