The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world unexpectedly. As a result of this, nations around the world have resorted to social distancing in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. Given the quality of technology that we possess today, we can perform some of the work that we do in the office at home. It is for this reason several workplaces have directed employees to continue job tasks at home.
Working from home isn’t always safe
As convenient and stress-free working on the internet is, it comes with several risks. Hackers exploit the increase of potential victims and step up various kinds of cyber-attacks.
If you fall into the traps laid by any of these cybercriminals, the privacy of your computer system would be breached. What’s worse, sensitive data about your company could be accessed from your workplace account through hacking techniques like phishing and malware.
Cybersecurity Risks Associated with Remote Work
- Public Wi-Fi Networks
While working from home, you could step out for necessary supplies and decide to use a public Wi-Fi network to complete your job tasks. If your home is close to a place with free Wi-Fi, you could be tempted to connect once in a while to access your remote workplace.
The problem with this is there are several hackers that attack public Wi-Fi to spy on your online activity. They can do this by breaching the network itself through a man-in-the-middle attack or creating a Wi-Fi network similar to that of public Wi-Fi. Once you connect to free Wi-Fi this way, sensitive data from your device gets siphoned.
- Using your Own Devices
You’ll most likely be using your personal devices to access your remote workplace. Your home devices do not have the necessary security level like that of your work laptops, leaving you exposed to several security risks.
You could have malware in your system from an infected program you installed months ago. While attacking the internet for interesting content during the pandemic, you could have also installed spyware on your device. You could receive a phishing email and land on a website where you would unknowingly fix in your details.
The point is, you may not have security tools like firewalls, antiviruses and the likes to protect your device. If this is the case, a hacker could easily breach your workplace account via received details from your system. Needless to say, this could put you in big trouble at work.
- Online Scams
Hackers are likely to redirect their scams to target remote workers during this period. The issue with these scams is that they come in various forms. While surfing the net, you could see a pop-up in the form of malware advising you to improve your device’s security. You could also fall victim to hackers using ransomware to get financial remuneration.
Refining Security on your Devices
- Use a reputable VPN
VPN, also known as Virtual Private Network, helps to boost your network security by tunneling your online traffic through a server location you’re connected to. Data encryption technology enables you to stay private and hide personal data from the prying eyes of hackers and even your Internet Service Provider.
If you must connect to public networks for your task, remember to switch on your VPN app to ensure an extra layer of security.
- Activate your Firewall
A firewall is considered the first line of defense against cybersecurity threats. Basically, firewalls obstruct the flow of traffic from your device to the internet. This way, they block malicious software like malware and ransomware from being installed on your system and plug information leaks on your device.
Operating systems typically have their own default firewalls. You could have deactivated them because they frequent pop-up on your system, advising you to protect your device.
There are also firewalls that can be built into routers. They can perform as added security on your network.
- Utilize Specific Services for Messaging and File Uploads
In your office, there are certain services that you used to message and communicate with other employees about work. Services like these include corporate email, Microsoft Office 365, and so on.
If you attempt to communicate or store sensitive company data on services like Google Drive, your information could become public data. This typically happens when you remove restricted access on the file or create a link to the file. Google could index the information and it could be viewed by anyone on the internet.
Keep on using the messaging and communication services you use at work. This way, you get to transfer information securely.
- Use Antivirus software
An antivirus typically acts as the second line of defense after a firewall. If by chance, malware or viruses are already existing on your system, an antivirus would clear it off. All you would need to do would be to run a general security scan on your device with the antivirus program.
- Beware of Phishing Emails
Phishing is a form of getting a user’s account details by creating a similar page to a certain account login page. Phishing is typically facilitated through emails. The email, which would make it seem like your account is being attacked, would advise you to login immediately to your account with a link provided.
Once you click on the link, you would be directed to the phishing page, where you’d affix your details in. Phishing emails usually target users with online banking details.
To prevent this, check the email address and verify it’s from the correct source. Hover over the link sent in the email and check the domain name to see if it corresponds with that of the original source.
Remote workers are at a higher risk of being attacked due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is because hackers are increasing efforts to get more victims. An employee could get his/her sensitive data stolen while using public Wi-Fi or unknowingly installing malware on your device.
To prevent data breaches during this period, you can use a VPN, antivirus, and firewall for protection. You should also endeavor to look out for phishing emails and use only corporate services for communication.