Cybersecurity experts issue warnings as schools begin remotely, businesses continue work online amid COVID-19

Months into the pandemic, cybersecurity issues persist as many students begin their school year remotely.

On the first day of classes Monday, Haywood County Schools were victimized by a ransomware attack.

Businesses have also had to make adjustments to protect employees and customers.

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"Unfortunately too many people have focused on getting their systems up, but not enough on security," said Tony Marshall, the President and CEO of ISG Cybersecurity.

While companies have spent years enacting protective features to stop hackers and attacks on their networks, the pandemic has exposed weaknesses.

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"We sent millions of people home. Not only did we send them home, the bad guys know they're home. Our home networks were designed to be functional, but we never put much attention on security," Marshall said.

In July, the FBI reported a sharp increase in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims using stolen identities.

Marshall recommends people get a network security assessment, so they can better understand their points of weakness. He also encourages the use of a password solution, while avoiding the same password for different sites.

Finally, he says people should be more aware of what devices are linked to their networks and the information they have stored.

"Most people underestimate the value of the data they have access to, and you really never want to do that," said Marshall.

This advice is especially important for people conducting business at home.

"Unfortunately, many people think 'I don't have anything that anybody would want.' If you have any of your clients information, you have their credit card information, their payment information, all of that stuff is very, very important. They might not have attacked your bank account, but if they get your customers financial information, they're terrorizing your customers," said Marshall.

In March, the FBI issued a warning over teleconferencing and online learning platforms being hacked, with offenders often posting inappropriate content. Zoom has since enacted increased protocols to prevent this from happening, though experts recommend moderators require a password to enter private chats, as well as retain privileges to admit people in.
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