As COVID-19 stay-at-home orders swept the nation, non-essential businesses were forced to make last-minute decisions to remain operational. For most, that meant transitioning to a remote work environment. As a result, countless employees are now working from home, and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Some are connecting to company networks and accessing proprietary information from personal devices and internet connections. Cybercriminals are capitalizing on this large and vulnerable target-set. According to the FBI, cybercrime reports have spiked during the pandemic.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to remain vigilant of cybersecurity threats. Here are 10 tips to help mitigate cybersecurity risks while working from home:
- Review your organization’s security policies. Securing data and information should remain an utmost concern when working from home. Take time to familiarize yourself with the expectations and responsibilities outlined by your organization. Immediately report known or suspected security issues to your company’s IT department.
- Protect data in transit. Whether you’re using a computer provided by your organization or a personal device, all data flowing between you and your company must be encrypted to protect the data from hacker eavesdropping attacks. Most organizations use virtual private network (VPN) technology to secure data in transit. However, some services protect data in transit through an encrypted web browser connection. Be alert for web browser sessions that do not display a lock, indicating that the connection is not secure, and never connect to a site if your web browser displays a security warning message.
- Secure data at rest. When working from home, exchanging large files isn’t as simple as walking into an office or utilizing a courier service. However, whenever possible, store your data on your company’s secure network storage devices. This helps ensure that your data is both safe from hackers and properly backed-up to prevent loss. If you use a cloud-based file sharing service, only use services that your company has approved. And finally, don’t forget to protect sensitive paper documents when working in your remote location.
- Update your operating systems and programs. To prevent cybercriminals from exploiting weaknesses, operating systems and programs should be updated regularly. To ensure your technology is up-to-date with the latest security patches, enable automatic updates whenever possible.
- Use anti-virus and malware software. To prevent, detect and remove malicious software or programs such as viruses or spyware, install anti-virus and malware solutions and software applications approved by your IT department.
- Safeguard your wireless network. Your wireless network is a key component to working from home, so it’s important to make sure it’s safe and secure. For basic steps to secure your home network, click here.
- Prevent video-teleconference (VTC) hijacking. Avoid the embarrassment and discomfort of a disruptive intrusion by setting safety protocols, such as waiting rooms, password requirements and host-only screenshare for video calls. For more information on VTC security, click here.
- Recognize and avoid phishing scams. If you receive emails with suspicious links or attachments, don’t open them. It may be a phishing scam, even if it appears to come from a reliable source. Before opening an unexpected, suspicious email, use a trusted number to call the supposed sender to verify the email’s legitimacy. Cybercriminals have exploited the COVID-19 pandemic, so be particularly cautious when reviewing COVID-19 related materials.
- Be careful about what you share on social media. Working from home can present new or entertaining experiences that you want to share on social media. Exercise caution, as you could be disclosing too much information. For instance, posting photos of your home office can include letters or packages that expose your address.
- Take breaks in order to reduce stress. It can be stressful trying to manage working from home while coping with daily life and the uncertainties of COVID-19. We all know stress can wreak havoc on your emotional health, diminishing your ability to think clearly and function productively. In order to combat cybercrime, stress management is key. Take a break to stretch, get fresh air or grab a comforting drink or bite to eat.
Cybercrime isn’t just a major concern for companies and corporations. Cybercriminals target individuals just as relentlessly. At Modern Abstract and Title, we understand cybersecurity plays an important role in not only protecting our business, but more importantly, protecting our clients. We make cybersecurity a top priority.