Companies around the globe have opted to roll out mandatory work-from-home policies amid the spread of COVID-19. As a strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the employees are asked to self-isolate by working from home to reduce the spread of the virus.
Technology has progressed so much that it is very easy and convenient for the people to conduct their work at the comfort of the home. As in all cases, there are some downfalls for this as well which is nothing but the online security threats. There are chances that the remote workers can lose their privacy and also result in the breach of the company security.
Online threats to remote workers
Here are some of the online threats which the remote workers must be aware of.
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks: The workers while working from home can secure their Wi-Fi. But there are cases where the staff have to use unsecured public Wi-Fi networks which are the usual prime spots for malicious actors to spy on internet traffic and collect user information.
Using personal devices and networks: The workers might have to use their personal devices and home networks for the job which usually do not have the necessary tools like strong antivirus software, customized firewalls and automatic online backup tools. Hence, the risk of malware entering your devices is high.
Scams targeting remote workers: There will be an increase in the malicious campaigns targeting remote workers.
Cybersecurity tips for remote workers
Before implementing any security measures, check with your employer for any protocols about handling certain aspects of cybersecurity.
Now, let us take a look at some of the safety measures that can be taken to protect yourself and stay safe online.
1. Use strong passwords
Make sure to use strong and unique passwords for all your accounts. Using same password for all the accounts is not a best practice, because if any one account is taken over by the attackers, then they can perform credential stuffing to compromise all your accounts.
Ensure that your passwords are unique and comprises of a long string of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. Also use a best password manager like LastPass and KeePass to create, remember, and autofill passwords for you.
2. Set up two-factor authentication
Set up two -factor authentication (2FA) and two-step verification (2SV) for your accounts which provides an additional step like an email or text message confirmation, a biometric method etc. to add an extra layer of protection.
3. Use a VPN
Using a VPN increases your online privacy. A VPN encrypts the internet traffic making it unreadable to anyone who intercepts it. So, snoopers like the Internet Service Provider (ISP), government agencies, or hackers are kept away from your system. Make use of a VPN that has high speed and reliability.
4. Set up firewalls
Firewalls act as a barrier between your device and the internet and prevent threats from entering your system. So, the malicious programs cannot enter your system to leak confidential information. Your device’s operating system normally has a built-in firewall. Also, enable the hardware firewalls that are built in to many routers. Besides there are plenty of third-party firewalls available for added protection.
5. Use an antivirus software
Use a good antivirus software that can act as a next line of defense by detecting and blocking known malware. Even if malware manages to enter the firewall, an antivirus can detect and remove it. Some of the best antivirus software include Norton, McAfee, and Bitdefender.
6. Secure your home router
In order to protect your home network from malware, it is necessary to first change your router password while installation. Besides, install firmware updates so that security vulnerabilities if any can be patched. The encryption should be set to WPA2 or WPA3. Restrict inbound and outbound traffic, use the highest level of encryption available, and switch off WPS.
7. Install updates regularly
It is very important to regularly update the device software and other applications. Updates usually include patches for security vulnerabilities that have been uncovered since the last iteration of the software was released. You can either set updates to run automatically, or do it manually.
8. Regularly back up of data
Data from your device can get lost due to human error, physical damage to hardware, or a cyberattack. So, ensure that the data are backed up on a regular basis. Even though hardware backup option is available, it is convenient and cost-effective to store your data in the cloud. In cloud backup services, the user can customize their backup schedule and storage options.
9. Check for phishing emails and sites
Phishing emails, voicemails (vishing) and text messages (smishing) are some of the common methods used by cybercriminals to “phish” for information. The information thus obtained can be used for further campaigns like spear phishing (targeted phishing attacks), credit card fraud, and account takeover fraud.
To check for phishing emails, first check the sender’s email address for minor errors like spelling mistakes or poor grammar in the subject line and email body. Hover over links to check the URL and do not click the links or attachments unless you are 100% sure about the sender. To further clarify, contact the sender through phone.
Also, while visiting a website, check for its credibility before entering any information. Usually a phishing site lack an HTTPS padlock symbol (although phishing sites have SSL certificates), misspelled domain names, poor spelling and grammar, lack of an “about” page and missing contact information.
10. Check for work-from-home scams
There might be an increase in the work-from-home scams and other schemes that target economy workers. Many of these request personal information or payments before you can begin work. By the time you realize it is a scam, the fraudster might have already terminated contact and stolen your money.
Use only reputable legitimate sites for any freelance work. Also never share personal information with a client without doing proper research.
11. Use encrypted communications
In order to communicate with fellow workers regarding sensitive information, you must use secure means of communication. Mainstream messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram enables end-to-end encryption. If you need to communicate via email, you can switch to specialized encrypted email providers such as Hushmail and SendInc.
12. Lock your device
It is necessary to keep your device secure, especially if you work in a public space. Lock your device using a password to encrypt its contents until someone enters the password. Besides, you can also use an additional full disk encryption tool.