There has been a significant increase in cyber attacks in work-from-home setups in recent years. In fact, according to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, the number of cyber attacks is expected to reach 6 trillion by 2022. This number significantly increased from the 3.5 trillion attacks recorded in 2016.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to re-evaluate their approach to cyber security. With more employees working from home, businesses must have robust multifactor authentication and secure remote access solutions.
In this article, we’ll explore how IT and security decision-makers can navigate the new landscape of hybrid work and make the setup safer for them and their employees.
Working From Home: Understanding the Core Risks
Working from home has become increasingly popular in recent years, but it comes with unique risks. Here are some of the core dangers to be aware of if you’re working remotely:
- Unsecured Wi-Fi networks. You’re likely using your personal Wi-Fi network when you’re working from home. This setup leaves your data and devices more vulnerable to attack, as personal Wi-Fi networks are often less secure than corporate ones.
- Lack of physical security. When you’re in an office, security measures are usually in place to protect your devices and data. In remote work, however, your computer and other work equipment are more exposed to theft or physical damage.
- Unsecured devices. Employees working from home are likely using their personal devices rather than company-issued ones. This practice can leave your data and devices more vulnerable to attack, as personal devices are often less secure than corporate ones.
- Remote access vulnerabilities. Remote workers access their company’s network and data online. This routine can create opportunities for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities in the remote access system to gain access to your company’s network and data.
- Social engineering attacks. Social engineering attacks exploit the trust relationship between you and your company and can lead to data theft or fraud.
- Malware and phishing attacks. Remote workers can fall victim to malware and phishing These attacks can infect your devices with malware or trick you into giving up sensitive information. According to IBM, phishing attacks increased by 2% in 2019-2020, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Insider threats. Insider threats can come from employees or contractors who have authorized access to your company’s network and data but may misuse that access for malicious purposes.
- Data loss. You may be more likely to experience data loss due to hardware or software failures, human error, or malicious attacks when working remotely.
- Lack of support. When you’re working from home, you may not have access to the same level of support from your company as you would if you were in the office. This can make resolving technical issues or getting help with work-related tasks more challenging.
- Legal and compliance risks. Several legal and compliance risks are associated with working from home, such as data privacy and security laws. These risks can lead to financial and reputational damages for your company if not properly managed.
WFH Security Checklist: Best Practices for Employees
Now that more and more people are working from home, it’s important to make sure that your security practices are up to date. Here is a checklist of best practices for working from home securely:
- Use a virtual private network (VPN): A VPN can help encrypt your traffic and protect your data from potential threats.
- Keep your software up to date: Outdated software can be a security risk. Make sure you keep your operating system and applications up to date.
- Use strong passwords: Strong passwords are essential for keeping your accounts secure. Use a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols in your passwords, and don’t reuse them across different accounts.
- Be aware of phishing scams: Phishing scams are common and can be hard to spot. Research by Tessian revealed that employees receive an average of 14 malicious emails yearly. Be wary of any emails or links that seem suspicious, and never enter your passwords or personal information into a website unless you’re sure it’s legitimate.
- Use two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your accounts. With two-factor authentication, you’ll need to enter a code from your phone or another device in addition to your password when logging in.
- Be mindful of what you share online: Be careful about what you post on social media and other websites. Don’t share sensitive information that could put you or your company at risk.
- Use a secure connection: When working from home, make sure you’re using a secure, encrypted connection. Avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots, and consider investing in a VPN service.
- Store sensitive information securely: If you need to store sensitive information on your computer, make sure you do so securely. Use encryption software to protect your data, and consider using a password manager to keep track of your passwords.
- Back up your data: Regularly backing up your data can help prevent data loss in the event of a security breach or other problem.
- Be vigilant: Stay aware of potential security threats and keep your anti-virus software up to date. If you suspect your computer has been compromised, contact your IT department or a professional IT security company immediately.
Following these best practices can help keep your data safe and secure while working from home.
WFH Security: Best Practices for Businesses
Here are some best practices for keeping your business secure while working from home:
- Use a VPN: A VPN can help encrypt your internet connection and prevent cyber criminals from accessing your data. Be sure to choose a reputable VPN provider and connect to a server located in a country with strong data privacy laws.
- Use two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts. In addition to your username and password, you will need to enter a code sent to your mobile phone.
- Keep your software up-to-date: Regularly update your operating system, web browser, and other software programs to patch any security vulnerabilities. Set your software to update automatically so you don’t forget to do it manually.
- Use a firewall: A firewall can help protect your computer from malware and other security threats. Be sure to configure your firewall properly and keep it up-to-date.
- Back up your data: Regularly back up your important files to an external hard drive or cloud storage service. This way, you can restore your data if lost or corrupted.
- Be careful what you click: Don’t click on links or open attachments from unknown senders. These attachments could install malware on your computer or give cyber criminals access to your personal information.
- Use strong passwords: Use long, strong passwords that are difficult to guess. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. Consider using a password manager to help you keep track of your passwords.
- Be wary of public Wi-Fi: Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks to access sensitive information. Cyber criminals can set up fake Wi-Fi networks to steal your data. If you must use public Wi-Fi, connect to a secure VPN.
- Monitor your credit card statement: Keep an eye on your credit card statement for any suspicious activity. Report any unauthorized charges to your credit card company right away.
- Protect your home network: Secure your home network with a strong password and encryption. Disable any remote management features that you don’t need. Regularly check for firmware updates to patch any security vulnerabilities.
Following these best practices can help secure your business while working from home. Implementing even just a few of these measures can significantly reduce your risk of becoming the victim of a cyber attack.
Securing WFH Networks Can Be Challenging
As more and more employees work from home, it’s essential to ensure that your cyber security measures are up to par.
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