Written by: Noah Rue
For some people, the idea of working from home is like a dream come true. You get to skip the commute, work comfortably, and be near your family. However, working from home can also create a false sense of security, and that is when cybercriminals come to play.
Whether you have been working remotely forever or you are just beginning a transition out of the office, it is important to remember that you are likely working on a connected network, and proper precautions must be made. Let’s talk about some common threats and preventative measures.
The Responsibility of the Company
If you are an entrepreneur working from home with a team of employees or you have a business that is starting the transition to remote work, it is important that you take the proper precautions and put guidelines in place. As the world continues to become more digital, cybercrime is on the rise. They say that in the year 2023, cybercriminals will steal more than 33 billion records, so stay ahead of the game.
When setting up all communication apps, cloud-based utilities, and email programs, set requirements for all employees to use strong passwords. An adequate password will include a complicated mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. When your employees share a network between their work and home activity, one vulnerability can corrupt both, so strong passwords will be a mandatory first line of defense.
As a business, you might also require the use of third-party authentication, which has the user enter a code in addition to their password. To top it all off, any data that is received from customers should be stored in a backup server in addition to the cloud. Make sure that all software updates are current, and that the data is encrypted.
Most companies will work hard to ensure that their team members have the right training to deal with common cybersecurity threats as they work. Along with this training, it can also pay to offer advanced options like a CISA training course online to your IT team members.
As an employee working from home, it is essential to be aware of current and common cyber attacks and how to prevent them. This is important not only for your work equipment but also for your home computing. If you ever had an instance where you fell for a cybercrime during your personal time, the infected software could transfer to your work equipment while you’re using the same internet connection.
One of the most prominent scams is phishing emails, which are communications sent to your work or home computer that attempt to get a response by seeming to be from an authority figure like your boss or the government. The emails will include a link or attachment, and if you click or open it, malware (viruses, worms, spyware) releases onto your system. If you fall for a phishing scam, the virus could steal your content, your company information, and otherwise damage your system. Do your research to ensure that all links and attachments are authentic.
Another common threat, the Man-in-the-Middle attack, can occur when you are working at public places. Essentially, when you go to connect to Wi-Fi at the establishment, a hacker can set up a fake account that the employee unwittingly connects to, giving the hacker access to their system. As a remedy, if you must work outside of your home, ask the owner of the establishment for the correct account.
Proper Security at Home
Whether you are doing personal online banking or writing a report for the boss, you must keep your home network secure. In addition to having proper passwords, you should also have strong antivirus software on all of your devices, and scans should be run on a weekly basis. Never leave your computer or devices unattended so they aren’t stolen.
With more of our devices coming connected these days, one bad piece of malware could take down all of your electronics, and that includes devices around the home such as doorbell cameras and smart speakers. It can be easy to set and forget them, but they also have software that needs to be updated regularly to prevent security vulnerabilities. The best way to stay on top of that is to register your devices with the manufacturer so they can inform you when an update is available.
Finally, never download any program that you didn’t specifically search for. Hackers try to create popups that tell you that your computer is faulty or infected and that their software can make things right. Instead, it installs malware, and your devices will suffer.
As more companies see the cost savings and convenience associated with having remote employees, we will see more people working from home. It is a good step, but without proper security, a good idea can quickly go sideways.