6 Cybersecurity Tips for
Safer Remote Working
Working remotely is suddenly the new normal for a lot of people around the world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Maybe working from home is new to you, or perhaps you’ve already had some experience with it. Whether you’re switching to a new remote working setup due to COVID-19 or were working remotely anyway when the outbreak began, unfortunately, cyber threats haven’t been closed down. In fact, there has been a clear spike in phishing, hacking attempts, and other criminal activity now that most people are working from home.
Workplaces typically have an IT department to take care of the cybersecurity side of things, but working from home means that you’ll need to pay more attention to it yourself, especially if you are using your own laptop or computer for work. Keep these tips in mind for staying secure when working remotely.
Use Antivirus Software
You need to have good antivirus software installed on your computer or laptop in order to stay safe. Without it, you’re very vulnerable to malware attacks and you might not even know that you have been affected until it’s too late. It’s especially important to invest in a good antivirus software program if you are using your personal computer for working and turn automatic updating on to ensure that you are always running the latest version.
Keep Your System and Programs Up to Date
Programs and operating systems like Windows or macOS are regularly updated in order to prevent criminals from exploiting weaknesses. Make sure that the operating system on your laptop or computer is always running the latest version; enabling automatic updates is the best way to ensure that you get the latest version as soon as it’s available and make sure that your systems are safe.
Secure Your Home Wi-Fi
Chances are you’re going to be logging on to work using your home Wi-Fi network, so it’s important to make sure that it is encrypted. At the very least, you should make sure that your Wi-Fi requires a password to use it. You should also change the router’s default password if you have not done so before. Most people just use the password that comes when the router is installed, but it’s not difficult for hackers to find out the default passwords for different router models, making them a very weak link in terms of protection.
Use a VPN
A computer provided to you by your employer may already have VPN protection installed, so it’s worth checking before you start using it. If you plan to use your own computer or laptop for work, installing a VPN will secure your connection and encrypt your data. A VPN means that any important data cannot be easily accessed by anybody else. While you might not be able to right now, if your employer plans to continue remote working into the future, you might end up someplace like a coffee shop or library to work, where you can connect to public Wi-Fi. You should absolutely always use VPN security when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks as these are the easiest for hackers to exploit. You should read one of Anonymania’s how-to’s to learn more about VPN security; these include reviews for different services along with detailed VPN how-tos to help you choose the right option and get set up.
Be Cautious When Opening Emails
Phishing emails have been around for ages, but in the age of COVID-19, internet criminals have widely tried to exploit the pandemic, with reports of people getting emails and text messages telling them that they are in trouble for going outside and must pay a fine in the UK, or phishing emails related to the stimulus checks in the US. Double-check all emails that you get, particularly if they ask you to click on any links or log into an account; make sure that you check the sender is authentic and if in doubt, contact them to get confirmation that the email came from them.
Avoid Oversharing Your Screen
Online meetings are becoming the norm for workplaces around the world, but when you’re on an online conference call or meeting with your team, be cautious if you are sharing your screen. Don’t leave any windows open that you don’t want to share, because accidents might happen, and you could end up sharing something that you didn’t want anybody to see. At best it might just be a little embarrassing or awkward, and at worse, you could be sharing content that contains private or sensitive information. You can also never be sure about how seriously your colleagues are taking cybersecurity while working at home, so even if you trust them, they might have been compromised themselves.
With working from home being the new normal, it’s never been more important to start taking cybersecurity seriously both when working from home or when devices are used for anything else.