You need to understand and implement cybersecurity best practices to protect your data if you work from home.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic remote working is no longer just for the fringe internet workers – web and software developers, stock traders, and hackers. It’s now virtually mainstream. Everyone from oil and gas industry engineers to health professionals to writers and creatives and most other sectors.
Consequently, there are a unique set of challenges to working from home, including work-life balance, autonomous time management, and information security.
While we can’t address the first two in this article, we know that cybersecurity and the need to keep your work and data safe working remotely online can be very hard to address. When you work in an office environment, your employer likely manages all issues regarding cybersecurity to prevent data breaches. Rather, when you work from home, you expose yourself to a number of information security risks. Some companies work to get ahead of this by deploying remote networks to protect work-at-home employees. Others do not. You may be working at home and need to safeguard your data on your own. You have to understand how to manage the security of your company’s sensitive information. And, it helps to effectively secure your personal information as well.
Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take to ensure that you protect your data and help mitigate cybersecurity risks:
Always use strong passwords
No matter where you work, you should always create strong, long passwords for all of your devices and online accounts. Strong passwords are key to protecting your data and sit at the top of any list of cybersecurity best practices.
Strong password protection should include your Wi-Fi network and router. Avoid using passwords that someone might easily guess – your address, name, or birthday, for instance. The more challenging the password, the less likelihood for a hacker to crack it and gain access to your devices or accounts.
If you want to evaluate the strength of your password choice, tools such as How Secure is my Password will check if it’s strong enough. It will also calculate how many days, weeks, months, or years it would take for a computer to crack it – kinda cool!
Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is fundamental to cybersecurity best practices. Yes, it secures your privacy online and can allow you to access to blocked content due to geography. Additionally, though, a VPN also protects your online traffic from interception for nefarious purposes.
A VPN is a virtual internet tunnel that encrypts all of your internet traffic. It ensures that data sharing amongst your network has protection from hackers. If you use a free VPN, you risk compromised internet speeds due to the higher volume. For business purposes, it’s best to spend the money on a VPN to maintain optimum productivity.
Implement two-factor authentication
A strong password is great. But, for those highly sensitive accounts, it isn’t always enough to mitigate the online security risks. For instance, if your credentials don’t have adequate encryption within the systems of your company or, using advanced password hacking tools, an attacker can “guess” the password.
Two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of protection for your accounts. It effectively validates employees’ identities more accurately and efficiently. It’s an extra step via text message, email, or a randomly generated PIN. Only the employee is able to provide the required authorization.
While not 100% hacker-proof, two-step authentication adds yet another measure of protection. It is another barrier to help prevent an unauthorized intrusion into company systems and accounts.
Keep systems updated
Updating systems such as your computer operating system as well as software and web platforms can be time-consuming and somewhat annoying. But, they are an essential component to the security of your data. System updates often address security vulnerabilities identified in previous iterations.
As remote workers access company digital infrastructure through their personal computers, it’s more important than ever that they keep their computers and software up to date.
Use solid anti-virus software
Even if a Windows machine has good built-in virus protection in the form of Widows Defender, it’s not enough. If you work remotely, you need to install strong anti-virus software and conduct frequent scans to identify possible infection.
There is a variety of good antivirus software available. A few to consider:
- Norton 360 Deluxe
Don’t get sucked into phishing scams
An important element of cybersecurity best practices, being aware of phishing scams is integral to your online security. Unfortunately, with more professional online usage throughout the pandemic, it offered more opportunities for hackers to take advantage and send far more phishing emails.
Phishing emails can result in corrupted systems or unauthorized access. This can result in vulnerability or compromise of your personal computer as well as company systems. With email often the primary means of communication, remote workers are far more susceptible to email phishing attacks.
First rule-of-thumb – click on NOTHING if you don’t trust or can’t identify the sender. To identify a phishing email, first check the sender’s email address for gobbledy goop URLs or spelling errors. Look for grammar errors in the subject line, preheader text, or email body.
If you’re still curious beyond that, hover over any links contained to see the URL – DO NOT click. And, certainly, do NOT click any attachments.
Secure your personal home network
Chances are that the router in your home included a default password at installation. It’s important to know that modern cybercriminals can find their way into default credentials for just about every kind of device. It will be among their first attempts into hacking your network.
Upon installation the first thing you should do is set a new, strong, long password to protect your personal network. Additionally, similar to the updates to your system and software, be sure that your router’s firmware is up to date. Hackers know which vulnerabilities to look for when it comes to outdated versions of technologies, including your home network. Home working has increased the likelihood of vulnerabilities to be exploited more easily and more frequently.
An easy step to prevent attack is to set your network’s encryption to WPA 2 or 3, which is far more challenging to crack than traditional WEP encryption.
Questions about your insurance and cybersecurity risks? Talk to us to ensure you’re protected.