COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has halted the economic activities of the world. While most of the countries are under lockdown, companies are encouraging their employees to work from home to keep businesses up. In the initial time companies with a weak infrastructure struggled to switch to remote work, however, as time passed companies adjusted and adopted.
According to a recent survey by Gartner on 800 global HR executives, 88% of organizations have encouraged or required employees to work from home. Also, nearly 97% of the organizations have canceled work-related travel. Besides, new applications and tools have made working from home convenient and simple.
However, it is undeniable that working in the office and working at home are two different ball games. In both scenarios, cybersecurity has become a major issue. Companies and offices usually have thoroughly protected devices and networks. During a time of crisis, cybercriminals are taking advantage. Microsoft detected a massive phishing campaign using 2,300 different web pages attached to messages and disguised as COVID-19 financial compensation information that led to a fake Office 365 sign-in page, in over 24 hours.
Here are 8 simple steps to securely work remotely:
1. Configure Wi-Fi encryption
The first and more crucial step to protect your computer is configuring Wi-Fi encryption. This is because if the computer is protected and Wi-Fi is not then the attacker can easily connect to the PC. This will enable them to not just intercept everything your PC sends or enter online including passwords for remote access to an office-based computer. Hence, it is vital to configure your network connection.
This can be done by making sure that the connection is encrypted. This will keep your information safe from prying eyes. However, there are several Wi-Fi encryption standards. So, you should handpick the best as some of them are outdated.
2. Change login and password of the router
For people who have never changed their login and password which is required to enter the router settings, it is high time to do so. The default password is set by many models that are both weak and known across the Internet making it easily searchable. More often than not, cyber-criminals simply write such passwords into the code of malicious programs. Then it can easily capture the router and turns it into a bot. The intruders can also spy on you through your computer as everything which is sent online passes through it.
3. Update Operating Systems and Programs
The development of technology has constant. Every day there is some innovation or invention. This also means that each day cybercriminals discover new vulnerabilities in applications and operating systems. These vulnerabilities can be easily exploitation and cybercriminals might able to infiltrate such devices.
However, once the vulnerability is found their program or system companies usually patched it in their next update. This makes it important to constantly stay in the loop to both get new features and stay safe from cyber-attacks on devices that you use for work.
4. Use a VPN
In case, if you are using an internet connection that is not owned by you such as the Wi-Fi of your neighbors or a café network which might not be secure then you take extra care. Public Wi-Fi networks are not encrypted at all meaning that anyone acquires their password.
You can use a virtual private network that can help you prevent other people who are connected to the same public Wi-Fi network from spying. All of your data is encrypted regardless of the network settings when connected through a VPN.
5. Use Antivirus Solution
Cyberattacks have been rising; to protect themselves from such malware companies undertake several measures to protect their computers. Some of the measures include the installation of powerful security solutions, restrict online access from unauthorized devices, prohibit employees from installing applications, and others.
However, while working from home, taking such stringent measures to provide protection can be tricky. This leaves a computer vulnerable as it might lead to stolen some related work documents. This might lead to serious repercussions and other legal implications.
So, to prevent such issues it is vital for people working from home to install a reliable security solution. There is also plenty of free versions that can be installed on your PC to reduce the risk significantly.
6. Utilize Corporate Services for All Work
Companies usually have a set of IT services that are used by the employees use such as Microsoft Office 365 or a corporate messenger such as Slack. Such tools are configured and set- up by the company’s IT service. However, the department is not responsible for the access settings.
Hence, if you sending a link to the file to anyone then search engines will be able to index it. This means that if someone searches the topic of your document on Google then it might appear in the results. Hence, it is important to stick with corporate resources when exchanging crucial or confidential documents and other information.
The cloud drives are configured for business and are generally far more reliable than the free versions. Additionally, corporate mails usually have less spam adding up to less risk of missing an important mail or wrong address. This will also mean that the colleagues will know that it’s you and not someone pretending fake.
7. Be Aware of Tech Scams
There are times when malicious or highly convincing mail might infiltrate into corporate mail. Remote workers are highly likely to such attacks as the amount of digital communications increases. Hence, being aware of such malicious activity is crucial. Read messages carefully before responding to them. In case someone needs an immediate payment of an invoice or an important document, you should always double-check with the person they are claiming to be. Clarify with the other party or at least confirm the action one more time. You should be suspicious of e-mails that have links and especially when the link does not point to a corporate resource.
8. Use File-sharing Service
Sometimes remote work can blur the lines between work and home. However, it is crucial to ensure that your personal and business data doesn’t get mixed up. In such a case, you can use business resources such as SharePoint or OneDrive to store and share work data. It is important to remember that you should not use consumer offerings for business data as they might not be as secure. It might lead to a possible reduction in the risk of unintentional and intentional enterprise data leakage.
Above are some security tips that can help remotely working employees take necessary action to work safely with corporate devices and corporate data from any location. For CISOs and IT managers, these security strategies for work from home can be easily incorporated into official cybersecurity and employee policies. The employees can also be trained on these policies while on-boarding new staff, when companies update their security policies, and finally in recurring security awareness training.
Good technologies and policies can help organization; however, the employees that are primary blocks of a business, they are at an increased risk. Generally, it is easy for organizations to implement work from home and remote work policies on internet use and different devices. They can be enforced with both technical and administrative controls.