The epidemic changed our lives, especially the workplace. According to McKinsey, 58% of Americans can now work remotely.
Working remotely lets you work from home, save money on commuting, avoid distractions, and more. Working from home also has drawbacks.
Working from home means you don’t have an office’s security, IT support, or trusted coworkers.
Working from home puts you at danger of hackers at coffee shops and curious toddlers disclosing critical data.
We asked experts for the best behaviors to safeguard your remote work environment.
Avoid public workspaces.
I know one of the main benefits of working remotely is being able to work in a productive environment like a coffee shop, library, or park. However, public workspaces pose major cybersecurity threats.
Shoulder surfing assaults are the first and most direct. All it takes is a determined hacker sitting next to you watching your every action.
While you work, they can steal your data to use later.
Public WI-FI might expose you to data breaches, which is the second reason to avoid working in public.
Avoid public Wi-Fi.
If you must work in public, avoid public Wi-Fi to stay safe. Public Wi-Fi networks increase your chance of being hacked and compromising company data.
“As you use public Wi-Fi, you are exposing your laptop or device to the same network somebody else can log on to so that means they can actually peruse through your network, depending on the security of the local network on your laptop,” explains Gartner VP Analyst Patrick Hevesi.
There are easy, secure ways to operate in public without utilizing public Wi-Fi. Public access to company data requires a VPN.
VPNs encrypt your device’s internet connection to increase security.
A VPN service is likely installed on company-provided devices. If not, several VPNs are available. Our suggested VPNs are listed below.
Tapan Shah, EY Americas Consulting Cybersecurity Leader, advises using a VPN to access business data over public Wi-Fi.
Turning on your phone’s hotspot in a coffee shop is another easy option. Your smartphone’s settings allow you to switch on its hotspot to exchange data with your device.
“If for whatever reason the VPN is [too] slow, make sure you use your hotspot because the hotspot is secured through a phone connection,” Shah says.
Buy antivirus software.
Antivirus software adds protection to your device easily. Malware-blocking software can help all systems.
Shah thinks they are crucial since operating systems still have numerous weaknesses. “The threat actors are just looking for those kinds of vulnerabilities, trying to get in, and this antivirus will at least have a signature of what that looks like and can catch that.”
Company-provided devices usually have anti-malware software.
Even if you infrequently access critical company data on your phone or laptop, antivirus software may help. Credit card numbers, medical records, and other sensitive data might also be protected.
Reboot and update gadgets regularly.
Software upgrades usually add features or improve device performance. Software upgrades provide the newest security patches.
“Anything, whatever you’re using, you want to make sure those devices that are connected to your network are up to date,” adds Hevesi.
Update all your devices, not just your laptop and phone. To decrease network risks, upgrade all IoT devices, including smart home gadgets.
Your router is crucial to update yet easy to ignore.
“At a minimum, you should update your firmware and make sure the patches are up to date on your router,” advises Shah.
Updating and resetting your router often ensures it has the newest, safest software and improves performance and internet access.
Use good passwords
Though basic, setting strong, unique passwords is often ignored.
Change default passwords to account-specific ones to secure accounts.
“Your security is as good as your password, because that’s the first line of defense,” adds Shah. “You want to make sure that you have a good strong password, and also don’t use the same password for all the other sites you may be accessing.”
Many gadgets and services use router-style default passwords. However, hackers may simply find and use these default passwords.
“You get some kind of ISP modem, and there’s a default admin router password, and most people don’t even ever change that,” adds Hevesi.
“Default admin password settings that anyone could look up on the internet, I could then get in and make changes or do all sorts of, you know, interceptions of traffic.”
Phishing attacks may easily provide criminals your personal information.
Scammers impersonate a trustworthy site, email, link, or message to acquire your personal information.
Scammers can infect your computer with malware that steals your personal data when you click on the link or file.
Anti-phishing software can assist, but educating yourself and your family is the greatest defense.
“Yes, you can have these tools that could try to stop those phishing attacks, but if the people in your house are not educated on what that means, it’s just really about educating the people inside the home, on ‘don’t click every link’ and ‘don’t be fooled,'” says Hevesi.
After learning about the issue, you and your family may act suspiciously and avoid traps.
Back up your files.
Data backup is the greatest ransomware defense. Ransomware attacks include hackers demanding money to publish or erase your data.
If you regularly back up your data, you can restore it without paying a ransom if you were attacked.
“A lot of ransomware attacks are going on,” adds Shah. “If you do the backup on a regular basis that actually helps you to recover [your data] if something like a ransomware event or data compromised event occurs.”
You may backup your data with iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive. An external hard disk is another option for data backup.
Even though you trust your family and household, your computer contains crucial business information.
An innocent click from a youngster might share critical information to your whole business or worse, to external groups that could exploit it for damage.
If you have children, parental settings can protect toddlers from accidentally attacking. Set your gadgets to automatically lock while you’re not using them.
“If you have children, there’s parental controls,” explains Hevesi. “You obviously want to protect people inside your house with additional layers of protection until they become tech-savvy.”
In addition to computer control, teaching your child about online hazards from an early age may help protect them and your data.
“I taught my daughter, she’s now an adult, about what’s good and bad, what a hacker is, and you know, how they do and what a phishing attack is,” adds Hevesi.