The discussion surrounding cybersecurity has grown from a slight murmur to a booming shout. More and more companies are beginning to understand the need for proper cybersecurity and cyber safety, especially since many employees work remotely nowadays. Cyber-criminals, scammers, malware — remote workers have been targeted by it all. If you’re a remote worker, you’ve likely had the unfortunate experience of coming across one of these things. Today, let’s go over a few of these threats, along with a few tips that will help you stay secure while working from home.
What Remote Workers Should Watch Out For?
According to a Cloud Security Report released by Wandera earlier this year, 52% of organizations experienced a malware attack in 2020. These incidents took place via remote devices, so the only explanation for this increase in malware attacks is because remote devices lack the security of devices back at the office.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, but it should be a wake-up call. More than likely, your PC and phone are just as vulnerable to malware as any other device—an issue you never had to worry about with your work computer.
Speaking of a lack of security, let’s talk about accounts. When you set up a password for your work accounts, did you make sure the chosen passwords were strong? Did your organization force you to create a strong password?
Weak passwords and password reuse are huge problems for millions of users, and all it takes for a cyber-attack to take place is one hacked account. There’s no telling how much damage a cyber-criminal could do with your account, even if they only have access to your account for a few minutes.
An aspect of remote work that employees enjoy is being able to work from anywhere. They’re not tethered to their desk; they can go out to their favorite coffee shop or library and work from there with their laptop and phone. But is doing so OK? Truthfully, no.
Public networks lack proper security protocols such as encryption. This means that connecting to a public network is dangerous on its own, and accessing your organization’s accounts and tools on a public network is a recipe for disaster.
How Remote Workers Can Secure Their Devices?
1. Secure the Network You Work On:
If you’re the type of remote worker to go outside of your home when working, make sure that the networks you connect to are secure. If you use public networks, assume that none of the networks you connect to outside of your home or business is safe. Fortunately, you can easily secure any network you connect to with a VPN.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts the data your device sends out through the network, meaning it’s impossible for cyber-criminals located on the same network to intercept your data. VPNs also anonymize your presence on public networks.
2. Download an Anti-Malware or Antivirus Program:
While some viruses and malware make their presence known almost immediately, many forms don’t. Ransomware, for example, will only make itself known once it’s too late–after it has encrypted all of your data. On the other hand, Keyloggers never reveal themselves, opting to stealthily steal a user’s data for as long as possible.
In short, you’ll never know when a piece of malware or a virus infects your machine—not by yourself. So it’s a good idea to download either an anti-malware or an antivirus program, both of which automatically scan your device for new threats. Most anti-X programs are free to use, so you don’t have to worry about breaking your bank for one.
3. Avoid Phishing Scams:
Phishing scams are scams that rely on manipulating their victims to give away personal and financial information. A famous phishing scam example is an email claiming you’ve won a $500 gift card to a retailer of your choice, and all you have to do is give them your social security number.
Most phishing scams are obvious. However, some are crafted better than others, and anyone could fall for them. Keep an eye out for phishing scams, and make sure you don’t become one of the thousands that fall for them every day.
4. Change Your Passwords:
There is nothing more important than your passwords. Without them, your accounts are feeding grounds for cyber criminals—areas where they can get as much information about you and your organization as possible. It’s imperative that you secure your accounts with strong passwords. Not only that, but you should change your passwords frequently.
Why is that? See, there’s no telling when your password has been breached, so it’s a good idea to change them frequently. If possible, you can even encourage your organization to force frequent password updates.
5. Respond to Threats in a Timely Manner:
If you are made aware of a security breach, such as your account being accessed via a device you don’t know, make sure to respond ASAP. Cyber-criminals are capable of causing a lot of damage in a short period. Ignoring signs of a breach or simply not caring is a great way to put your organization at risk.
6. Separate Work from Personal Devices:
There’s a decent chance you’re not as careful about your security on your personal devices as you are on your work devices. After all, being a bit careless on your personal phone won’t jeopardize your job and employer. However, there are plenty of remote workers that use one device for both work and personal use.
If this is something you do, put a stop to it. If possible, buy a cheap laptop that you can use for work and delegate it as the “work device.” That way, you won’t accidentally expose your work if your personal devices are ever breached or stolen.
COVID forced employers to look towards remote-working solutions for their employees. While that has worked wonders for employees and employers alike, remote working has its fair share of issues, including security. Fortunately, employees have many tools at their disposal to secure their connections, devices, and work!