At least 40% of employees spend some of their time working remotely. So managing best cybersecurity practices is top most important. And these remote employee numbers are on the increase following the coronavirus pandemic. More employees are completing work-related tasks from home.
While some companies already had existing security policies in place, many of them have been caught by the need to have a percentage of their employees working from home unawares. As such, many are permissible.
With the current buildup of malicious actions online, companies and employees need to be extra cautious when accessing company databases from home. This article brings you important security tips to keep in mind while working remotely. Following them will help keep you and your company safe from cyber crimes.
But first, let’s look at some of the security risks associated with working remotely.
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Security Risks Associated with Working Remotely
1. Attacks on Work Infrastructure
Your company’s network may suffer DDoS attacks and this could bring major activities to a standstill. Attackers are aware that you are working away from the work premises and that you rely on server connections.
These infrastructural attacks are likely to rise with the increased need for remote working.
2. Malicious Roommates
This might seem like a non-issue but it is a concern. You never know who has been willing to steal your company data without success. Probably because accessing a building fitted with surveillance cameras to plug some USB cable would not be a walk in the pack.
But now you are home and unsuspecting. A malicious insider might cause you irreversible harm with data theft. Don’t rule out the possibility of having an innocent roommate used by a malicious outsider.
3. Spam and Phishing Emails
Company staff is sending many email correspondences as all employees try to fit into this new work environment. You are uncertain about the update that you will receive and from which department. Cyber criminals may capitalize on the confusion to launch phishing attacks via email.
Scammers may go to the extent of impersonating your clients by pretending to be in some desperate situations just to get your attention.
4. Weak Security Controls
Working remotely will have some employees switch from using the office network to the home network. While the office network may be tightly secured, the home network may not be as safe. It’s just an unsecured Wi-Fi connection with no security measure in place.
Open networks are a common avenue used by hackers to launch data theft and breach attacks.
5. Careless Employees
Some employees might take for granted the issues related to data security. Remote working puts companies at risk of having such employees expose their sensitive data.
Some employees might not understand that one inappropriate action may put the entire team at risk of cyber-attacks.
Now that we have seen the possible risks associated with working remotely, let’s look at some of the best practices that can help mitigate the risks.
Safety Tips to Follow While Working Remotely
1. Remain Vigilant
The first step to protecting yourself from falling victim to cyber malice is by being vigilant all the time. Acknowledge the fact that there are many malicious people out there; just because you are using your company’s laptop doesn’t make you immune.
All employees must remain alert enough to spot scams that may be directed to their network through phishing emails and other prompts that risk infecting their devices with malware. As an employee, if you feel uncertain about anything on your computer or work device, consult with the IT department before taking any action.
Never take instructions from an illegitimate source and always keep your passwords to yourself. Please note that cyber criminals are already releasing scams that are themed coronavirus, they know this is very catchy news right now. Unfortunately, many people are already falling prey.
2. Use a VPN
A virtual private network is a sure way of keeping spies off your network. Now that probably more than half of the employees will be working from home, you can download a VPN for different devices. This will ensure that all the data shared between all employees is encrypted.
Data encryption makes is unreadable by third parties, this is in the unlikely event that they successfully intercept it during transmission.
3. Lock Your Screens When Not in Use
Work ethics always remain at play even when working remotely. Correspondences and work data must remain confidential all the time. Someone may unintentionally mess you up by clicking on a sensitive button while checking whether the device is powered on or not.
If possible, avoid sharing your work devices and always keep the screens locked during all breaks, regardless of how short the break might be.
4. Keep Programs, Software Up-to-date
Updating your software protects you from security vulnerabilities that the developer might have noted in the previous versions. Cyber criminals know that a good percentage of internet users are good at ignoring software updates for ‘later’.
Failing to update your device’s software may lead to an infiltration of all the devices in your work network. Stay ahead of the cybercriminals by updating your software whenever the official developer notifies you of an available update.
5. Update Your Router Settings
Most routers come with default passwords such as admin. If you have never changed yours, this is the time to do so. A weak password makes your network searchable and easy to access.
If a hacker accesses your router, they can be able to snoop on all your online traffic.
Update the password into something that is not easy to guess. Still, on the home network, you should also reduce the number of internet users within your network. You can make the WI-FI undiscoverable or secure it with a password.
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As is the case with any underlying danger, preventing cyber-attacks while working remotely calls for preparation. For companies with a sizeable number of employees working away from the office premises, laying out clear remote working policies is crucial. Companies should also plan for security awareness sessions.
Employees should be encouraged to be part of the security solutions by making timely inquiries with the IT department. Everyone on the work network should appreciate the fact that beating cyber threats is a collective responsibility.
On its part, the company should put effective security measures in place.
About the author:
Jack is an accomplished cybersecurity expert with years of experience under his belt at TechWarn, a trusted digital agency to world-class cybersecurity companies. A passionate digital safety advocate himself, Jack frequently contributes to tech blogs and digital media sharing expert insights on cybersecurity and privacy tools.