At the start of the pandemic, approximately 60% of full-time and part-time workers in the United States worked remotely at least a portion of the time. However, some firms' IT professionals are concerned about this lengthened work-from-home shift.
Ponemon Institute LLC and Keeper Security, Inc. issued a global study in October 2020 that indicated that 44 % of these experts felt confidence in their firms' ability to fend off cyberattacks during the pandemic, compared to 71 % before the pandemic. What is it that they are most concerned about? A lack of physical security in remote workers' workspaces (47 %), the potential of malware infecting remote workers' devices (32%), and the chance of cybercrooks accessing sensitive data on remote workers' devices (24 % ).
Professionals in the field of information technology have reason to be concerned. Interpol, the international police agency, warned that the work-from-home movement will lead to an increase in cybercrime. "As companies and enterprises increasingly install remote systems and networks to assist workers working from home, criminals are exploiting increased security weaknesses to steal data, create profits, and disrupt operations," according to Interpol.
So, what can you do to protect your work-from-home cybersecurity if you're a remote worker? Check out these five tips from cybersecurity software providers MonsterCloud, Norton, and UpGuard, as well as the National Cyber Security Alliance, to keep your data and devices safe.
1. Don’t Delay Updates
If you receive a notification that a software update is available for any of your devices, make sure to install it as soon as possible. Updates to software (including antivirus products) correct security holes and help protect your data.
It's critical to pay attention to notifications for operating software upgrades and changes that influence your apps on your smartphone, especially if you use the same phone to manage your business and personal lives.
2. Watch Out for Phishing Scams
Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the surge in remote employment to fill inboxes with bogus emails.
Phishing scams linked to the pandemic, in particular, are being warned about by cybersecurity experts. "These emails are intended to capitalize on people's natural interest and desire to learn more about pandemic-related issues," MonsterCloud explains.
Here's an example from Norton: You get an email from your workplace that appears to be about a new corporate policy addressing the coronavirus. The email, however, is part of a phishing scheme. The fraudster wants you to open an attachment or click on an embedded link in the email. That single click could infect your computer with malware. As a result, be cautious when opening attachments or clicking on links in emails.
Scammers send phishing emails that appear to be from a trustworthy entity, such as an employer, in order to acquire account numbers, passwords, and other personal information, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
“Most of the things that they could gain access to could absolutely make life miserable for you,” says Kelvin Coleman, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance.
3. Pump Up the Passwords
Before anyone can use your devices, they should require a password. Password-protect your Wi-Fi network and router, which connects your internet-enabled wireless and wired devices. According to UpGuard, you should change your router's password from the default to something unique.
For any online account you log in to on an employer-issued device, the National Cyber Security Alliance recommends creating a strong, lengthy password. According to Norton, a password should be at least 10 characters long and should not contain any real words or personal information (like a birthdate).
“By combining uppercase and lowercase letters with numbers and special characters, such as ‘&’ or ‘$,’ you can increase the complexity of your password and help decrease the chances of someone potentially hacking into your account,” Norton says.
Passwords that repeat numbers (000000), contain sequences (123456), or are frequently used should be avoided, according to UpGuard. "Password," "test1," "qwerty," and "iloveyou" are all common passwords.
4. Keep Your Devices Separate
Assume you use your tablet to watch Netflix episodes, your home laptop to pay bills, and your employer's laptop to work. If that's the case, maintain it that way. When you undertake work duties on your home laptop, for example, you may be putting crucial business data at risk if your laptop isn't secure enough.
Furthermore, you should not allow family or friends to use your company-issued gadgets.
Cybercriminals are attracted to the many personal and work devices we use at home, according to Coleman. To make matters worse, he claims that those devices are receiving more use these days, with children learning remotely and people working remotely.
“It’s not unlike any other disaster that we’ve seen since we’ve been relying on technology. Bad actors take advantage of a crisis. A global pandemic is a crisis,” Coleman says. “They’re going to take advantage of this because they know so many more people are online. There is a target-rich environment that bad actors see these days.”
5. Consider Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication secures an online account (such as your bank account), an electronic device, or a computer network. However, according to the Ponemon Institute and Keeper Security research, 31% of IT experts surveyed said their companies didn't require remote workers to use any authentication methods at all. Only 35% of IT experts believed multi-factor authentication was required in the 69 percent of firms that did need those techniques.
Before someone may log in to an account, connect in to a device, or log in to a network, multi-factor authentication requires at least two methods of verifying their identity. Passwords, security tokens, and biometric identification are examples of these methods (like a fingerprint).
“As hackers look to target less tech-savvy users that are new to working at home, multi-factor authentication stops hackers in their tracks,” information security website Help Net Security says. “In a time where most employees are working on unsecured home and public networks, having multi-factor authentication as an extra safeguard will not only take some burden off the IT team but will also help make employees that aren’t trained in security less susceptible to cybercriminals.”
Working from home comes with the added duty of upholding security requirements that would normally be supplied for you if you worked in an office. You can help offer the safe environment your job deserves by building good habits like creating strong passwords, implementing multi-factor authentication, and updating software on a regular basis.