In an agencywide memo, NASA CIO Renee Wynn warned that cyber threats have significantly increased during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Wynn cites that there has been an increase in cyberattacks targeting personnel teleworking and that NASA’s Security Operations Center (SOC) mitigation tools have prevented these cyberattacks from succeeding. The attempted cyberattacks include increased phishing attempts, increases in malware attacks on NASA systems, and attempts to get users to access malicious sites.

“Experts believe these malicious cyberattacks will continue and likely increase during the pandemic,” Wynn said. “NASA’s SOC continues to monitor and protect agency systems, data, and intellectual property 24/7.”

The FBI recently released a public service announcement on increases in cyber threats and have said that since March 30 its Internet Crime Complaint Center had “received and reviewed more than 1,200 complaints related to COVID-19 scams.”

“NASA employees and contractors should expect these cyber threats and cyberattacks to continue at an elevated level. Be cautious while working and when using your personal computers or mobile devices, Wynn said.

NASA is suggesting that employees do the following to prevent cyberattacks:

  • Use the NASA VPN to leverage all the agency’s security protections;
  • Avoid using personal email or non-work-related social media on NASA devices;
  • Keep all NASA devices updated;
  • Use software, video, and teleconferencing systems that are approved and authorized;
  • Encrypt NASA emails containing sensitive information;
  • Avoid revealing personally identifiable information or financial information in emails; and
  • Review the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s tips on avoiding social engineering and phishing scams.
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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.