The Covid-19 outbreak started in late 2019 in the Wuhan city of China, a commercial center located in the sprawling capital of Hubei province and home to more than 11 million people.
After its outbreak, this deadly virus began to spread exponentially around the world and was declared as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. It is said to have affected more than 200,000 people and has taken more than 8000 innocent lives till now.
Apart from its catastrophic consequences such as the global healthcare crisis, shortage of resources, and loss of human life, the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic has given rise to socio-economic instability in all parts of the world including the USA.
Moreover, to contain the rapid spreading of the coronavirus, many offices, and educational institutions are closed down in the country, forcing people to stay indoors, which has consequently led to a substantial increase in the demand for the internet.
As more and more people are getting dependent on the internet to work from home, access e-learning platforms, carry out financial transactions, seek entertainment and keep in touch with family and friends due to social distancing, the web infrastructure is taking a great toll lately.
Effects of Covid-19 on the World Wide Web
The massive outbreak of Covid-19 in the US has affected the World Wide Web in two major ways i.e. enormous data consumption and an increase in malicious cyber-theft attacks.
Over-the-top Data Consumption
Since educational institutions across the nation have been shut down, remote learning plans have been implemented by academic authorities to cope with the outbreak and prevent learning loss amongst students. This has contributed to a surge in web traffic as a substantial number of students are hopping on the internet to access e-learning platforms regularly to take online classes, tests, and quizzes.
On the other hand, many businesses including Google and Microsoft have allowed their employees to work from home and tasks such as assigning or submitting work and exchanging daily reports are being done online using the web or mobile applications. Moreover, video conferencing platforms such as Skype and Zoom are being used to hold regular business meetings, resulting in high traffic surges on the web.
While work and studies are keeping users occupied, social isolation and the shutdown of restaurants, cinemas, parks, and various other entertainment hubs have made life dull and boring in The Land of Opportunities. To fight the doldrums and social deprivation, people are extensively using social connectivity apps like Facetime, Viber, and Whatsapp to keep in touch with family and friends and are counting on online games, food delivery apps, YouTube and Netflix to stay entertained.
Cybercrimes on the Rise
As if severe social isolation leading to traffic surges wasn’t enough of a challenge for the cyber-world, the number of hackers trying to feed on the coronavirus fear has been gradually increasing with passing time.
From spreading phishing scams to hacking into US Health and Human Services Department to spreading fake news, these malicious hackers are taking advantage of the Covid-19 fear amongst people that have mainly developed due to accessing an excessive amount of news coverage on the TV and all kinds of rumors and false information circulating over social media.
Hackers exploit this fear and use it to trick users into malware or phishing traps via email click baits and get hold of their personal information and financial data which could lead to identity thefts and financial losses.
The Cyber-world VS Covid-19 – The Combat
With millions of Americans relying on the internet and wireless networks due to the closure of schools and businesses, the internet service providers are facing tremendous pressure to provide reliable connectivity to their customers to cope with the increase in consumption and swelling web traffic.
To help people with their constant need of internet consumption that has come as a result of economic and social constraints, Xfinity Internet Service being the first amongst some other leading ISPs, has announced the suspension of broadband data caps for home internet users to facilitate work-from-home, e-learning, and social connectivity and help people overcome the distressing repercussions of the pandemic.
Moreover, ISPs have boosted download speeds, promised to increase the availability of Wi-Fi hotspots and have reassured the users that their internet service won’t be shut off or discontinued for the sake of their convenience even if they are unable to pay their bills for 60 days.
How Can the World of Internet Fighting Cyber-scams?
Cybersecurity experts such as Norton have advised users to follow three basic steps to identify scams.
- Always remember that legitimate government agencies will never ask for your personal information so never give out your details such as login information or social security number to a corona-virus themed email asking for it as it’s a phishing scam.
- Never forget to check the email address or link to spot something fishy and delete the email as soon as possible if you do.
- Always double-check the email and look for grammatical errors or spelling mistakes to ensure that it’s legit and not a scam.
Moreover, to help identify and confront the Covid-19- themed phishing traps it’s always beneficial to install an anti-virus or anti-malware security software on your internet-enabled devices so that you can keep the cyber-thieves at bay. You can also contact your service provider and enquire if they offer a security suite with the connection.
Is The World of Internet-ready for Covid-19?
Positivity is the key! Despite the spiking internet traffic in the US, internet providers such as AT&T, Cox, CenturyLink, Charter Communications along with 46 others are on high alert and taking all the necessary steps to cope with any upcoming changes in the wireless or wired internet connection.
50 leading ISPs in the US have jointly taken steps such as suspending data caps, waiving late fees, opening Wi-Fi hotspots to everyone and deciding not to cut off the connection even if the bill isn’t paid for two months to survive the chaos mingling in the digital world due to Covid-19.
As they say “keeping together is progress,” to cope with the rapidly spreading Covid-19 outbreak and the rate at which it is hampering the economic, social, educational and medical activities in the state, the internet world is joining hands to maintain stability and ensure that people continue to earn, study, stay entertained and communicate with their loved ones via broadband and fight social anxiety caused by the pandemic.