By Jennifer Adams
It’s no secret the pandemic has changed the workforce and for some those changes are here to stay. According to Forbes Advisor, working from home has become the new norm for nearly 60% of both full and part time workers which presents a new set of cybersecurity challenges. Here are a few practices we recommend following to keep your network safe while working from home.
1. Don’t wait to update
It’s easy to procrastinate on software updates because we are all so busy, however, the few minutes it takes to do an update can patch security flaws that protect your data. One of the most effortless, yet effective ways to stay secure while working from home is by keeping your device up to date on antivirus and firewall software. Firewalls are your first line of defense to prevent threats from entering the system because they create a barrier between the internet and employee devices, which can stop data from being leaked and malevolent programs from entering. Antivirus provides the second line of defense by detecting and removing threats the firewall may have missed, such as malware.
2. Keep an eye out for phishing scams
Watch out for suspicious emails from strangers and emails appearing to be from a known contact but seem unusual. Cybercriminals are thriving on the remote-work surge by flooding the inboxes of unsuspecting victims with phony emails. These emails are created to raise curiosity so the recipient will click on the attachment and provide the hacker with personal information. Should you receive any suspicious emails, do NOT click on any attachments. Double check the email address to make sure its correct or call the person to verify its legitimacy.
3. Take advantage of your company’s technology
One simple, extra step to keep you safe is to sign into your company’s VPN, then working from home. A VPN encrypts all your internet activity, which makes it impossible for a third party to intercept and interpret.
4. Only work from a company device
Personal devices often lack essentials such as strong antivirus software, firewalls tailored to the company’s specific needs and the backup tools built into the company network. Working from a personal device would make it much easier for a hacker to steal company data. If possible, work only from a company computer, do not share passwords with family members, and only work on business related tasks from the company computer.
5. Make sure you aren’t being watched
Working from home often entails meeting and video calls that require the use of a webcam. A skilled hacker can easily access your webcam without permission and without you knowing. This compromises your privacy and can get even worse if you have documents with confidential information laying in view of the camera. Take an extra step to protect yourself by purchasing a sliding webcam cover or unplugging your webcam when not in use if it’s separate from your device. Some people have been known to take a more low-tech approach and cover their webcam with black electrical tape or other opaque material.
Depending on the video conferencing software you use, it may provide the option to blur your background. This helps to secure your workspace and ensure no one sees any sensitive data pertaining to you or your clients.
6. Get with a great Managed IT Provider!
If your company does not already have an IT professional or department, there is no better time than now to partner with a managed IT provider.
A managed IT provider can still assist you, even if you’re working from home, by answering any questions you may have, monitoring your network for threats, remoting in to fix issues that pop up, keeping you up to date with the latest software, and advising you on technology purchases. They are not just “the IT guys,” they partner with you and your company to gain an understanding of your business and help you be the most successful you can be.