Coronavirus Cyber Security Preparations – Prepping for Survival During the COVID-19 Outbreak Involves Collecting Basic Supplies and Cyber Security Beast Practices
We write a lot about viruses but have always talked about computer viruses, malware, worms – and other malicious things that can happen to our beloved phones and laptops. Cyber security best practices include survival skills to protect your money, keep your data private and protect yourself online. But prepping means more than protecting your phone with an antivirus app and a virtual private network. Our survival skills and prepping now considers the breakdown or inability to communicate using WiFi, the internet, and all of our electronic gadgets.
Since January, we have been watching the spread of COVID-19, the novel Coronavirus, that is spreading globally and has not successfully infiltrated the United States. The attempt to contain COVID-19 has resulted in quarantined communities, travel bans, and testing that cannot keep up with the outbreak. Do you know how to get information if you are physically cut off from your regular contacts? Do you have enough supplies to live at home without going to a market? Or what if the market has nothing to sell?
If you think you need two of something (like gallons of drinking water) then you should store three. If you feel you only need one, then have two on hand. Be more prepared than you think. You will have enough to survive isolation or share with others in need.
Here are real-world tips for cyber prepping:
Download Email Contacts
Download your phone contacts including phone numbers and names. Let’s face it, how many people’s phone numbers do you have memorized? It’s convenient to have them stored in the cloud, but if you lose access to the internet, you won’t be able to call, message, or text anyone if you don’t have their number and a functioning device.
Although the Coronavirus, or other emergencies, may not cause the internet to go down, it’s possible that you may be in an area silenced by government censorship, or more likely an overloaded network. When 9/11 happened, I lived in central New Jersey. I had been on the phone with people further North in New Jersey when the cellular network went dead. Our landline wouldn’t work either. I watched fighter jets fly overhead for days but all the while, I could not place a call for days. Add some apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, or other apps that can use the internet or cellular service so you can stay in touch with loved ones.
Go Old School, Grab a Radio
Get a Radio (or two). You should have a few backup communications systems planned. Two-way radios are a good, old school, way to maintain communications when our smartphones cannot connect. Step up your preparedness with encrypted two-way radios. Why encrypted? Hopefully, we all stay sensible and social order prevails. But it’s nice to keep comms private while talking over public airwaves. Think of it as scrambled walkie-talkie.
Better yet, get an antena. goTenna’s mobile mesh networks enable communications even when cell, wifi, and satellite are unavailable.
Get a Map
Do you know your way to Grandma’s house without using Google Maps or Waze? Get a map of your local area or the location you plan to hole up in. Find alternative sources of water in the event there is a shortage. Some biological contaminants (not the Coronavirus) are water borne and that may make water scarce. Speaking of contaminated water, make sure your immunizations are up to date. Like your smartphone and laptop, you can get viruses too!
Defend Against Malware Attacks
Assuming that you’re still connected to th internet, watch out for scams. As always you have to be wary of people who are out to scam you. COVID-19 has only been around since January and there are at least four variants of Coronavirus themed phishing emails spotted in the wild. The content of these malicious emails plays off these fears of people worried about the global infection. Under the banner of offering helpful virus related information but delivers Emotet malware if the recipient opens an attachment.
Emotet malware is a banking trojan that can steal banking credentials or download even more malware.
Stash Some Water
You need water to live. Don’t count on buying bottled water from a local store either. In the anxiety mounting over the spread of COVID-19 across the globe, people stocking up food and supplies over Coronavirus fears have already resulted in a shortage of necessities. Stores like Costco and Home Depot have placed limits on purchase quantities.
Establish a Meet Up Point
One of my biggest concerns is that my group is separated when an emergency begins, or something happens to our home base while someone is out on a supply run. For example, if something happens to our home (we live in a coastal storm area) and we need to flee, where will we meet up again? How will we know to meet up? What do we bring along if forced to flee home and how will you carry your supplies?
During the days following 911, we had a vehicle stocked with food, clothes and supplies. It was kept with a full tank of gas and ready to go. We had no idea what happened, why, and what could happen next. You have to know where the next meeting point is, especially if you don’t have working communications. You should have a go-bag prepared with the essentials and some escape routes planned.
Along with basic supplies, food, and water, yiu’re going to need some tools. A useful and rugged Leatherman is one of our favorites. We’ve used it for micnor reapirs, to gt the oil cap off airplane engines, and for cutting.
Stay Away from Public Gathering Places
You may get lonely holed up for days, weeks, or months while chaos subsides. But the temptation to head to shopping malls or crowded public areas for information or entertainment isn’t a good plan. Close contact is how diseases like the Coronavirus, SARS, and MERS are spread. Appearing in public may also be dangerous. If you aren’t looking as gaunt or pale as everyone else, that may mean you have supplies.
Stock Up on Food and Medicine
As the COVID-19 Coronavirus advances across the United States, food and basic medical supplies will be snapped up. Stocking up ahead of time will make sure you are prepared, and it will also keep you out of markets and other public spaces.
Stock up on Batteries
If electricity fails or is working intermittently, you’ll need a way to charge batteries on phones, laptops, or portable lights. Have some rechargeable Lipos as well as NiCad batteries on hand in the sizes you need for flashlights. Make sure you have lots of candles and a way to light them.
Rumors and fake news spread like wildfire during panic and cause unneccesary anciety. Check WHO website and CDC website for updates as well and local government websites for accurate information. Listen to reliable news sources like NPR. In the event of a global disease outbreak stay informed by reading updates from the World Health Organization (WHO) website, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Check your local health department and school district website for information on closing, vaccinations, and outbreak status.
Like it or hate it, or not Twitter is a good resource for information and news. Twitter is a light and simple mobile app. it’s also fast to load and you can leave direct messages, so consider signing up for a Twitter account. Most government agencies have a Twitter profile and use it to inform the public with updates.
Limit What You Share on Social Media
Anytime you go on vacation or travel for work your home is at risk. Thieves troll social media looking for people posting vacation photos meaning their home is unattended. If they can go back in your profile and find older photos that identify where you live, then it’s an opportunity to burglarize your home.
If you decide to hole up with friends or family leaving your house empty, then it is at risk for theft. Even if there was no Coronavirus, posting on social media that you are not at home is an invitation for ordinary thieves or looters to break into damage property or steal.
Remember to practice sensible social media best practices – all the time, not just during times of crisis.
- Avoid oversharing online
- Don’t post your location unless it’s needed in the SHTF scenario
- Don’t post photos or share info about your wealth. In this case it may be how much food you have rather than how big your house is
- Use a VPN to protect your username and password. Hackers capitalize on times of trouble and are always looking to scam data