COVID-19 pandemic forced many employees to be available to their companies remotely. Working from home remotely can be a convenience, but it also puts employees at the risk of cyberattacks. Interpol, the inter-governmental police organization, recently issued a warning that there would be an increase in cybercrimes amidst the rising work-from-home culture.
The international agency observed that cybercriminals are taking advantage of security vulnerabilities arising from remote working. The police agency warned that cybercriminals are using security loopholes to steal data, unsettle businesses, and derive financial benefits.
This trend of remote working is no longer expected to be limited to the pandemic period. Trend analysts believe that remote working would exist across many sectors even after the pandemic.
If you are working remotely, then how do you ensure cyber-safety amidst rising threats? The key is to be prepared and continue staying on alert. Implementing the cybersecurity practices explained below can help you keep your devices and data safe:
- Use an Antivirus
Given that businesses are likely to suffer a yearly loss of $1.5 billion due to cybercrime, an antivirus serves as a preventive measure. A comprehensive antivirus designed to offer remote cybersecurity protects you from serious risks such as phishing, malware, ransomware and spyware.
Choose antivirus types designed specifically for internet and remote protection as they offer maximum protection. As these software applications run in the background, you can go about your daily tasks uninterrupted.
Reputed software apps are able to update themselves and keep you protected against the latest cyber threats.
- Pay Attention to Software Updates
In addition to antivirus software updates, your device receives alerts on operating system and app updates. Do not delay installing these updates. By delaying these updates, you are placing your device at a greater risk for cybercrimes.
These updates are designed to address security flaws in the existing versions and protect you against the latest worms, Trojans and other major and minor security vulnerabilities.
- Do Not Disable VPN
If you are using a Virtual Private Network or a VPN on your device, then do not switch it off. A VPN allows you to work safely from your remote destination. VPN guarantees safety by keeping your communication with your colleagues and managers encrypted.
As information is encrypted, cybercriminals find breaching security and stealing information difficult. They cannot intercept sensitive information or hold it hostage for their selfish motives.
Network security is critical to keeping yourself safe when working remotely. Do not rely on public Wi-Fi or other free networks for your office work. Do not communicate sensitive office information or documents on such networks.
- Password-Protect your Devices
When you are working from home, it is easy to leave your device unattended. Refrain from doing so as family members, especially little children, can compromise your device security inadvertently. Lock your device when you are not using it or are not nearby.
It is important to keep your device password-protected to prevent inadvertent and malicious entry.
In addition to laptops and PCs, devices such as your router and Wi-Fi network should use passwords. If you are using the default password for your router, then change it to a customized one.
Using a password alone is not enough. Ensure that your passwords are strong enough to discourage cybercriminals. For the best protection, ensure that your passwords:
- Feature a minimum of 10 characters
- Do not contain any real words or divulge personal information such as your birthday
- Do not contain patterns or repeat numbers
- Contain numbers, alphabets (including lower and upper case), and special characters. With such passwords, you increase their complexity. Complex passwords reduce the risk of security breaches.
- Consider Using Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication uses a minimum of two modes of entry verification, which provides extra layers of protection. Verification methods include passwords, and fingerprints or other biometric identity. Security tokens such as USB tokens, chip-embedded hardware tokens, and electronic key fobs, may also be used for identity verification.
Multi-factor authentication can be employed for devices, accounts and networks. This method can greatly reduce cybersecurity risks for beginner remote employees that are less aware of remote cyber-risks.
If you are a remote employee and are using a company laptop or other device, then consider communicating to your employers the need for multi-factor authentication.
- Beware of Videoconferencing Risks
Meetings using videoconferencing software have become a norm of remote working. With remote working expected to continue even after the pandemic, videoconferencing is more than likely to be part of every office goer’s life.
If you have videoconferencing software, then the following features ensure that you are safer and less at risk:
- Sessions are password-protected
- Sessions are end-to-end encrypted
- Guest entry is controlled via a waiting session
- Regular software updates are available
Without proper security measures, a cybercriminal can hack your session and eavesdrop on your meetings. This can make your company data vulnerable to abuse.
Talk to your manager or IT department to know the security options available in your video conferencing software. To contribute to safe video conferencing, download software updates as and when they are available.
- Be on Alert for Phishing
Criminals employing phishing send fake emails with malicious downloads and attachments, which can embed harmful malware in your device. Criminals can even hold your device with all its sensitive information, hostage, and demand ransom from you.
Emails sent by phishing criminals look so genuine that you may be tempted to click the attachment or visit the link contained within the email.
For example, you may receive an email that is seemingly about a change to your company policy in view of the pandemic. You may do what the email asks you to, and watch to your horror that your device has fallen into wrong hands.
Keep yourself updated about phishing scams to prevent such attacks.
If you receive emails with any downloads or links that look odd or suspicious, then run them through your IT desk or your manager. If your company has any complaint desk for phishing attacks, spams or suspicious emails, then use it.
- Maintain Separate Devices for Personal and Office Work
Using your personal device for office work can put your company data at risk of security breach. Your personal devices can become easy targets for cybercriminals, especially if they are not adequately protected. To minimize cyber-risk, use separate devices for your office and personal tasks.
Following effective remote security practices enables you to contribute to a remote working environment that is as safe as a regular office. With your security intact, you get to enjoy the safe cybersecurity environment of working from home.