The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a raft of changes, one of the most substantial being the new normal that is working from home. Whilst it has been a welcome move for many businesses, protecting individual workers from cyber-scams targeting their home network has emerged as a new and serious challenge. Reported numbers of security breaches have risen during the lockdown and the need to protect one’s personal information and professional data is now the foremost concern of many IT departments and security professionals.
There are a few simple tips that every employee should consider to protect their online home and work environment:
- Beware of phishing
Avoid clicking on unknown links and pop-ups that appear on your web browser. Phishers prey on individuals by posing as legitimate companies and individuals in an attempt to encourage individuals to provide private and financial information.
In a work environment, phishers often imitate senior management to trick employees into transferring money, providing client data or supplying login information to business accounts.
Here’s a good rule to follow: Never enter personal or company information in response to an email, pop-up webpage, or any other form of suspicious communication. Should anything feel amis, contact the sender by phone to confirm what information they need and why.
- Use strong passwords for protection and authentication
Creating unique, complex passwords is an essential security step. A strong password contains at least ten characters and includes numbers, symbols, and capital and lowercase letters. Passwords should be periodically changed — at least two times a year.
Remembering all your passwords can be challenging; that’s where a password manager can help. A password manager stores all account passwords in an encrypted server and the user has to only remember one password to unlock the manager.
- Install security software updates and back up important files
Following IT security best practices means keeping security software, web browsers, operating systems, and all system applications updated. The latest antivirus and anti-malware keeps your devices safe from emerging viruses and new forms of malware.
If your software gives notification about an update, install it right away. This also applies to other personal devices you use at home including mobiles and tablets. Installing updates promptly helps defend against the latest cyberthreats that can compromise a business’ security system.
- Connect to secure Wi-Fi
When working from home is the norm, home Wi-Fi security becomes crucial. Home Wi-Fi networks should be secure, encrypted, and hidden. If you’re working remotely, connect to a secure network and consider installing a proxy. Public Wi-Fi networks can be risky and using a proxy can ensure data protection. A proxy is a virtual server that protects the actual IP address of the home system, allocating a temporary IP address for all online activities.
- Enable firewall protection at home
Having a firewall for your home network is the best cyber solution to prevent unauthorised users from accessing websites, mail services, and other personal information. Should a hacker try and access a firewall protected network, the user will be immediately alerted and can take appropriate steps to safeguard their private information.
- Use a VPN
A virtual private network is a secure online space used for safe communication and is a must for any home office environment. A VPN tunnel encrypts your personal data, keeping it safe from prying eyes and making private transactions impenetrable to hackers and cybercriminals.
A VPN also blocks your IP address, making your actions virtually invisible to anyone who may be trying to track you.
By understanding that all networks are vulnerable to security breaches, employees can engage in safe cyber practises to safeguard their own data and private company information. Hackers and cybercriminals know that more of us than ever are working from home and see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capitalise on weak security systems.
Implementing the above tips including making use of firewall protection, installing the latest security updates, setting strong passwords, and using VPN tunnel are all essential steps to creating a secure home work environment.