By Dan Baker, Content Writer with SecureTeam
In recent months the word has been shocked by the spread of the Coronavirus which continues to dominate the news and forcing many people into a lockdown. In response to this crisis, many businesses are embracing working from home or working remotely in an effort to continue to operate while keeping employees safe. Never before have so many people been able to work remotely from their own homes.
Of course, working remotely can be very different from working in an office and comes with its own challenges. This is especially true when it comes to cybersecurity. Most businesses work hard to secure their office networks and devices to protect private corporate data. Unfortunately, while you are working from home you won’t be protected by these security measures, leaving your devices vulnerable to a cyberattack.
Here are 8 simple cybersecurity tips to help keep confidential information secure while you are working remotely during the Coronavirus lockdown.
1. Invest in basic cybersecurity training
Most data breaches are caused by poor cybersecurity training for staff which is exploited by phishing emails or social engineers. It is a good idea to invest in basic cybersecurity training for your staff normally and it is especially important while staff are working remotely.
Coronavirus related scams are already on the rise and attempts to access confidential information via phishing attacks are likely to follow suit. By providing employees with a basic knowledge of the common cybersecurity threats they will be in a better position to spot phishing emails.
2. Install reliable antivirus software on your devices
While working in the office you have a wide range of measures available designed to protect the office network and devices. At home, however, it is much harder to protect your computer from cybercriminals. However, it is essential that you protect any device that is going to be used for work with a reliable antivirus solution.
Using antivirus software is also a good idea to keep your own personal data safe. If you are hesitant to invest your own money on a security solution and your place of work is unable to cover the cost, there are a number of reliable and free antivirus solutions available that will help to keep your device protected.
3. Secure your home network
Protecting your computer won’t help you if cybercriminals are able to access your Wi-Fi router. This would allow them to intercept anything you send online, such as any documents, emails or passwords that pass through the router. That is why it is important that you also configure your network connection correctly while you are working remotely.
The first step is to make sure that your connection is encrypted, meaning anyone wanting to connect to your Wi-Fi will need a password. This will stop anyone from accessing your Wi-Fi without your permission.
The next step is to reset the default password for your router. Default passwords are notorious for being weak and often easily found online. A strong password set by you will be much harder to break. Finally, ensure that your encryption is set to WPA2 or WPA3. This will help to protect your home network and prevent malicious parties from accessing any connected devices.
4. Use a VPN when connecting to a public network
This is a handy tip that you should be following whenever you are connecting to a public network, such as one found at a coffee shop. Public Wi-Fi networks are rarely encrypted which could allow other users to spy on you through the network. A VPN provides an additional layer of security which encrypts all of your personal data.
While you are working remotely it is a good idea to use a VPN provided by your office to protect data as it is moved from the office network to your device. A VPN hides the user’s IP address, encrypts data transfers while in transit and masks the user’s location. Many organisations already have a VPN service in place and it is only a matter of ensuring that that has sufficient seats to offer protection across your employee base.
5. Update programs and operating systems
Many cybercriminals take advantage of vulnerabilities in the operating systems and applications of your devices to infiltrate them. Thankfully, these vulnerabilities are often patched in the updates that are released regularly. This is why it is so important for you to install these updates as quickly as possible.
Cybercriminals rely on people neglecting to install these updates and by updating your software regularly it is less likely that anyone will be able to exploit those vulnerabilities to access your devices. In many cases, it is possible to set updates to run automatically overnight, meaning that you won’t even be inconvenienced by the update.
6. Use encrypted communications
Communication between you and the rest of your team is going to be more important than ever during remote working, and more difficult. It is also likely that these communications are likely to include sensitive details. This is why it is important that you make use of encrypted communications while you are working remotely.
Most businesses or organisations already have a secure method of communication, such as your corporate email. If this is the case, all you have to do is continue to use this secure communication method while working remotely.
7. Make use of a secure and approved cloud network
Another way to keep confidential data or documents safe is to ensure that it isn’t stored locally on your device. Instead, all work-related content should be stored on a cloud-based storage service that has been verified by your company’s IT department.
In addition, it is important that you make use of secure cloud-based apps, such as Microsoft Office 365 or a corporate email system for exchanging documents and any other information.
8. Always lock your device when you leave your desk
Locking your device whenever you leave your desk is a best security practice for working remotely and in the office. Anyone can catch a look at your screen while you are away for lunch or a bathroom break and see a private work email or some confidential information.
Even while you are working from home during lockdown it is still a good idea to lock your device, if only to prevent your cat from sending an unfinished email to a client or a curious child deleting 2 days worth of work by mistake. In addition, it should go without saying that your device should be password protected.
Working remotely is a new challenge to many of us during this difficult time and it comes with many new challenges. Unfortunately, when it comes to ensuring you are productive and not lured away from your work by Netflix I don’t have any advice for you. But, when it comes to protecting confidential work documents and keeping your devices secure these simple tips should help you stop cybercriminals and make working remotely a lot easier, at least in terms of cybersecurity.
Dan Baker is a Content Writer who works with SecureTeam, a cybersecurity consultancy practice based in the UK.