Before the pandemic, the internet played a major part of our daily lives. But when schools, businesses and activities were brought to a halt last March, the internet was fundamental to enabling the widespread shift to a new way of life with most people working and learning remotely, as well as maintaining vital connections with family, friends, and loved ones via FaceTime, Zoom, and other platforms.
While the success of such a significant societal change will be judged years ahead, there is no doubt that this increased reliance on the internet has brought both new and evolving risks.
Every day, malicious hackers, phishers, and cyber criminals are attempting to capitalize on our increased screen time and on the added stress and distractions that come with it, whether it’s to steal money or to sow discontent in our communities.
Cybersecurity is not a new focus area for Massachusetts, but it has taken on an even greater importance since March. Last month, across the commonwealth, organizations came together to sponsor virtual panels, host learning sessions, and virtual trainings as part of the first Massachusetts Cybersecurity Month, an effort organized by the MassCyberCenter at MassTech to bring attention to this critical issue. During the month, the commonwealth announced a new grant to the CyberCenter that will launch a statewide cybersecurity conference for municipal leaders and public safety officials in 2021.
While the MassCyberCenter has been around since 2017, its work has grown in importance as threats have increased. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity division, reports of phishing and business email compromise scams were up 600 percent since the start of the pandemic. That report made it clear that cyber criminals are working under the cover of COVID-19 to exploit people through phishing attempts, fake business emails, and stimulus check scams.
The primary tool to combat these thieves is cybersecurity. But what exactly is cybersecurity, and how can it help you? In trainings the MassCyberCenter hosted recently for municipal leaders, we note that cybersecurity is comprised of three key components:
• People make decisions about how to use and…