Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic broke, a lot has changed in the way people interact and among the things that changed most was work dynamics. For companies to try and control the spread of the virus, many people were driven to work from home. This way, businesses would move on as usual without physical interactions.
Although working from home seems like a convenient solution for limiting the spread of the virus while continuing business operations, it’s not without other issues. While an office setting offers a separation of work and personal devices, proper security measures, and employee training on cybersecurity, the same might not happen at home.
Therefore, cybercriminals are taking advantage of loopholes created by the work from home dynamics to launch attacks on companies. However, it’s entirely possible to keep the cyber threats and attacks on remote workers at the minimum with good cybersecurity practices.
Take a look at these nine cybersecurity practices every remote worker should know and practice.
Staying Aware of Phishing Scams
One of the ways that hackers get into systems is through malicious emails. Inevitably, emails are an essential mode of communication in any organization. It’s considered a secure way to pass information to teams, suppliers, investors, and other stakeholders. It also creates a record that can be followed for clarifications. Cybercriminals are aware of these facts, and they usually send emails that mimic emails from reputable companies only to infect computers and systems with malware when they’re opened.
A malware attack can allow a hacker to spy on users and access, steal, or manipulate data. They then use the compromised data to demand ransom to release company data or sell it in underground data markets. Such an attack has damaging effects on any business. With remote work, communication on email has increased, making businesses more prone to phishing attacks. However, proper security awareness training can reduce these incidents significantly as every remote worker will be more careful.
Phishing attacks through email can be spotted by checking spelling errors on the sender’s email address or the subject line. If the email is opened by any chance, they should be careful not to click on any links and open or download any attachments.
Strong Antivirus Software
Antivirus software is an important security tool when it comes to detecting and eliminating malware in computers. A good cybersecurity practice for remote workers is to have a robust antivirus that is regularly updated. When hackers attack, infiltrate a system, they make the system prone to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, ransomware attacks, spyware, malware attack, etc. These attacks can corrupt data and destroy years of hard work.
An antivirus takes the worry away by working behind the scenes and offers remote workers security from a myriad of threats. A good antivirus suite can defend computer and work systems from security threats and regularly update itself to stay ahead of emerging threats.
Good Password Practices
Most people aren’t keen on good password practices, and it’s among the valuable tools for alleviating cyberattacks. All that a hacker needs is a single compromised password, and they can gain access to files and systems in an organization. Most people have a habit of using very predictable passwords in addition to using the same password for multiple accounts. If one worker’s password is leaked to hackers, it puts an entire organization at risk of data leaks.
Every organization needs a strong password policy that every employee follows regardless of whether they’re working from the office or not. The use of password managers can help every remote worker generate strong passwords and avoid reusing passwords. Another issue with passwords is setting computers to log in to work systems automatically. This makes anyone with access to a worker’s computer able to log in to an organization’s system effortlessly.
Setting Up Two-Factor Authentication
Although creating strong passwords reduces cybersecurity risks radically, it often only serves as part of the cybersecurity solution. Hackers keep perfecting their craft in case they ‘guess’ a password correctly. It helps if there’s an additional security layer. Two-factor authentication (2FA) enhances security by asking employees to validate their identities. When logging in to work accounts, the extra security step sends a text message or email that only an employee can provide for their specific accounts.
The 2FA may not be entirely hack-proof, but it makes it harder for cybercriminals to get into work accounts and access information. It helps to limit unauthorized access.
Setting Up a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN is an excellent way to set up encryption or a mask over your data and avoid cyber threats. A VPN helps to keep your online privacy and at the same time protect your network traffic from interception by hackers. Different VPNs are food for different Internet needs. However, it’s recommended that remote workers use paid VPN for better speeds. The free versions may have a very high volume of users that can cause slowed Internet connection affecting productivity.
It’s also good practice to enhance VPNs with a robust authentication method. Every remote worker should secure their accounts well, and they should ensure that the passwords are kept safe. It’s also good practice for remote employees to update their passwords regularly. This makes it harder for hackers to guess the passwords.
Installing Software Updates Regularly
Updates are an essential part of any technology ecosystem. Sometimes they’re deemed annoying and a waste of time, especially when they catch someone abruptly in the middle of work. In such cases, a worker may be tempted to stop them or postpone them for a later time. However, updates are crucial as they bring important security updates on s system and patch the vulnerabilities that may have been noted since the previous update release.
This makes it imperative for employees working remotely not to neglect the regular updates in their operating systems and also on work platforms. The updates could be carrying essential security details that can help enhance security around an organization’s confidential data that would otherwise be vulnerable in the absence of the updates.
Securing Home Wi-Fi
A secure home Wi-Fi is a simple yet effective step in promoting cybersecurity for workers working remotely. The first step is to create a strong password for the router, which is done from the router settings. Most people only rely on the default username and password, which makes an easy guess for anyone who wants to get into a router. Another step is to change the Network ID and create a unique ID that’s difficult to guess.
Remote workers should also ensure that network encryption is enabled. The most robust encryption method is Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA2) for hardware built after 2006. Running the latest version of a router’s firmware also ensures that software updates patch the potential security risks that may be there.
Avoiding Data Sharing on Personal Devices
Another cybersecurity practice for remote workers is to avoid using personal devices for work at all costs. Most of the problems that make organizations susceptible to the risk of cyber-attacks are working from personal devices. Sharing or storing work information on personal devices puts it at a higher risk of being stolen or falling into the wrong hands. Remote employees should keep all work data on work devices.
If organization stores and shares data on central storage such as a cloud or a server, all remote employees should use the platform. This way, if their devices were to be compromised, the security on the central storage will be safe. In case there are local files destroyed, there’ll be a backup.
Keeping Physical Security
Physical security is also as important as good cybersecurity practices for remote workers. While working remotely, it’s possible for an employee working in a public area, such as a café or a library, to leave a device unattended. If possible, remote workers should avoid working in public places where there’s more risk of data getting compromised. If they must, the devices should be with them at all times.
Communicating in low tones on company matters is also recommended. A remote worker should avoid working with people outside the organization in the same space. In addition, they should avoid running out of battery charge during a data transfer process. These acts may look small but can make a massive difference in improving security around an organization’s confidential information and data.
In the same breath, when working from home, employees should keep work devices from children and other family members. It may look like an innocent act allowing family members to use work devices, but the same may compromise company data from genuine human errors.
Cybersecurity is an essential aspect for organizations, whether the work is being carried out in-house or remotely. Organizations need to have a remote work policy that provides guidelines for remote workers to follow. This is the first step in ensuring that company information is secure.
Proper guidelines and practice by employees can go a long way in ensuring the safety of company information. Remote work may linger a little longer, which makes taking proper cybersecurity measures a crucial step.