Privacy and Security Vigilance in a Time of Social Distancing
Posted in Privacy

Certainly precautions considering the health of our friends, families and co-workers are foremost in our minds at this challenging time. While our lives and workplaces are disrupted in various ways, we should still be keeping privacy and security in mind.


We are getting reports that online threats are higher than normal. When we are distracted, it is easier to be taken advantage of, especially with many more people working from home than usual. Here are some tips to help individuals and organizations maintain cyber-safety:  

  1. Do not disable any security mechanisms like VPNs or remote access protections available or provided by your organization.
  2. Organizations should ensure that networks remain monitored and there is a contingency plan in place to address IT-related issues. Attackers are aware that fewer people are in the office.
  3. Be more vigilant of social engineering, which is more likely to succeed in a time of social distancing. Expect to see more attempts to use the pandemic as a way to trick you into giving up your password or credentials. We have already seen phishing emails trying to use fake COVID-19 links to spread malware.
  4. Authentication and verification of transactions can and should still occur while social distancing. Use secondary means like the telephone, text, or other secure communication platforms to confirm transactions, particularly in the case of an abnormal or rushed request.

Privacy at Work

There are also certain privacy concerns when it comes to sharing personal information around COVID-19. Employers can reasonably ask employees to report any exposures to COVID-19 or travel outside of Canada. Employers may generally collect and use personal information to manage the employment relationship.

Advising others in the workplace or in a customer-facing environment of the personal information of an individual raising a potential exposure to COVID-19 should be done following the advice or orders of a medical health officer. Absent such advice, organizations should probably refrain from sharing information about any particular individual.

For more details on issues employers must deal with as a result of COVID -19, please see our Labour & Employment blog ‘Employer’s Guide to COVID-19 in the Workplace.’

While we all practice vigilance regarding our social interactions, we should also continue to be cautious about our cyber safety. We will be more successful working together.

  • Ryan  Berger

    Ryan Berger is a leading privacy and employment lawyer, with a primary focus on providing strategic advice to businesses and employers.

    Ryan leads the firm’s Privacy Group and routinely advises public and private sector ...

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Lawson Lundell's Privacy and Data Management Blog provides updates on the most recent issues emerging in the legal and business communities. We cover a range of issues, legal developments, and new technology as they impact privacy and data management. We will focus on how organizations can protect, manage and innovate with information considering the various risks, regulatory and governance requirements.

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