Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, companies have been forced to embrace remote work in some capacity just to survive.
The benefits for both employer and employee are proven: money savings, better work-life balance, less commute stress, and even positive environmental impact. However, remote work has birthed new types of security risks. Personal devices that handle company data can provide ample opportunity for cyber attacks.
Additionally, entrepreneurs and employees are storing valuable data at home as opposed to secure company facilities. The remote worker has become a more valuable target for hackers.
According to the FBI, cyber complaints have skyrocketed since the pandemic. Phishing emails have increased 667% as hackers use the coronavirus to trick users into clicking or downloading attachments, that trojan horse viruses into their computers and demand ransom to unencrypt them.
Establish these basic cybersecurity habits to keep your family, yourself, and your business safe.
Whether you work for yourself or another company, cybersecurity should be a priority. If you work from home full-time, you are bringing valuable company data and equipment into your domain daily. This makes you and your devices prone to potential hackers and cybercriminals.
I’m not talking about the neighbors who were able to guess your WIFI password. That’s a problem we’ll deal with later…
There is a reason why so many websites ask for a variety of characters and capitalized letters when selecting a password. I know it can be tough to remember, but Password123 is a hacker’s wet dream.
But you’re smarter than that. You already use a password with over eight characters, capitalizations, a mixture of letters and numbers. That’s wonderful!
Except, now you’re using that same password for multiple accounts🙃.
That is the same as having multiple keys to your house. Once you lose one you’ll need to change the locks on all of your doors and get a new set of keys.
Avoid using the same password for multiple devices or accounts. Instead, consider purchasing a password manager like NordPass. This can encrypt your passwords to keep them safe and eliminate the need to remember anything but a master password you use to access each program.
How many devices do you use for work? How many are not company-issued?
Your laptop or desktop are the main hubs for all of your company work. Many jobs do not provide company computers. That means you are forced to use your home computer. It may be the same one you use to shop online, where the kids do their homework, and where you save all of your family documents (ex. medical records, social security numbers, credit card information, etc.).
Not to mention, you logged in to your company email on your personal phone and opened spreadsheets on your tablet.
The more you connect to company platforms and access company data from personal devices, the more opportunities you provide for hackers to find security breaches they can exploit.
The security of mobile devices is particularly risky since they are more likely to be lost or stolen and connect to public and unprotected networks once you leave your home.
You may be familiar with VPNs as a way to bypass geographic restrictions when watching location-specific shows on streaming sites like Netflix. Tunneling your traffic through a server from another location is just one way to use the Virtual Private Network.
But did you know that a VPN can improve your online privacy?
I won’t bore you with the details, but basically, a VPN encrypts your internet traffic. This means that your data will be unreadable to anyone who may intercept it. This eliminates prying eyes from hackers or larger agencies.
I’d caution against using free VPN services installed on your computer or others you find online. They are known for slowing down your internet speed, tracking your activity, and bombarding you with ads.
Services like NordVPN offer monthly subscriptions under $5 per month with a 30-day money-back guarantee and your first 3-months free.
There are certain security measures you can build into the devices and accounts you access. Check your settings to ensure that:
Word of advice: go into the Settings of your devices and turn on Automatic Updates. Updates often contain patches to fix security vulnerabilities that have been discovered since the last iteration of the software released.
In many cases, your updates will be scheduled during times when your computer is inactive.
Cybersecurity attackers do not solely rely on bypassing firewalls and antivirus protection software. They also prey on the individual who unknowingly provides access to their private information.
Phishing scams happen most often because the user is not paying attention. Unusual wording or requests for sensitive material can be overlooked. Not to mention if you work from home your guard is down. You may have just got finished making breakfast for the kids before school or just got out of bed.
There are far more distractions at home than in the office. This makes remote workers a greater target for online attacks.
Moreover, according to a 2020 study among employees, 47% who confessed to clicking on phishing links were distracted at the time of the incident.
Most homes have one WIFI network that is connected to every device. That means that mobile phones, laptops, smart TVs, printers, even Bluetooth headphones can be used as access points through which a hacker can find your work device.
“So a hacker gained access to my PlayStation. What’s the big deal?”
In reality, the issue is not the information stored on the console, but the fact that it provides a connection to every device on your home WIFI network.
Install passwords on all of your home devices. It’s best to avoid using smart devices that don’t allow you to set up adequate security protocols.
If you are a remote employee, you do not want to be the one to mishandle or potentially lose company information to criminal entities. To ensure the safety of both your private and professional information, try these work-from-home cybersecurity checks and let us know when you do 😉
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