The Threats of Remote Working
When working from the office, your computer network is likely equipped with high-end technology that block and prevent intruders from going into the network ensuring that data is safe from prying eyes. But what happens when you take that away and work from home? What defenses are you left with? Working remotely has its perks, but there are many threats to be aware of.
Use of personal devices
At the office, your computer probably has rules and software in place to mitigate potential attacks. But not everyone has the luxury of bringing their work computer and its security home with them. The use of personal devices when working remotely is prevalent. These devices are not typically protected with antivirus software and advanced firewall capabilities leaving your data at risk.
What to do
Make sure your computer has a modern operating system. Windows XP, Vista, and 7 are all end-of-life and not going to cut it. Your computer also needs to be updated with the latest security patches.
Use strong passwords not only on your computer but also on your online accounts. Strong passwords consist of at least 10 characters and contain upper and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols. The longer and more unique the password, the more difficult it becomes to crack it. If you are not good at remembering passwords, try using passphrases such as
# Black bear cubs in the wilderness 41
Ford trucks DeWalt tools Carhartt clothes 4 Ev@
Not only should you be upgrading your weak passwords, but you should also get in the habit of locking your devices when you are away. This can prevent little ones from taking over your computer or others from easily accessing your files.
You should also set up multi-factor authentication on any accounts that allow it. When this feature is enabled, it will add an extra step when trying to login to your accounts to verify your identity. This could be a code that is sent to your phone or a code that is generated from a third-party app. The beauty about two-factor authentication is that the code expires after a short time which makes it difficult for hackers to get into your account even if they have compromised your password.
Think about installing antivirus software on your home computer or ask your employer if they can provide it for you. They are relatively inexpensive and provide at least a single defense in your insecure home network.
Weak network security
Residences also typically have low-end routers instead of commercial-grade firewalls that help inhibit unwanted traffic from going into your home network. Unlike firewalls, residential routers do not have the ability to provide traffic monitoring, intrusion prevention or gateway antivirus leaving you and your data vulnerable.
What to do
Turn on your Windows Firewall under settings. Although Windows Firewall does not offer advanced protection, it at least provides a small barrier from the external network and gives you basic traffic filtering.
Look into setting up a VPN connection. Virtual Private Network or VPN allows you to surf or work on the internet while keeping your connection secure and private by encrypting your data. This can be done on any device.
Increase in phishing scams
Cybercriminals are using the ongoing threat of COVID-19 to their advantage. They send phishing emails that appear to come from legitimate organizations such as the CDC or WHO that provide information and updates on the coronavirus. However, these messages contain corrupted links that redirect you to a fake website or download malicious software onto your computer. Some cybercriminals might even pose as medical specialists or a retail company that try to get you to open a pdf on safety measures to follow or express the urgency to buy their limited supply of N95 masks.
What to do
If a person or organization is asking for your personal information, do not give it to them. If the email looks legit and you recognize the individual or business, but you are still suspicious, verify by calling the company to confirm the authenticity. You still should never send confidential information through email unless it is encrypted.
Check the email address in the header. Does the domain appear to come from a reliable source, or does it contain a long string of characters? Also check the email subject and body for grammatical errors and simplicity.
Working remotely poses new dangers but being prepared can set you and your company up for great business continuity and success. Making a few changes to how you work from home can help secure confidential data and prevent any looming threats.