The idea of employees working remotely is not a new phenomenon, however, because of coronavirus, it has become the norm for everyone. It has changed business cultures and new work policies have been implemented to adjust. The rise in workers workings remotely has increased security risks and security teams have had to develop long-term plans to ensure that employees are secure while doing their work.
Remote Security Risks
Before implementing solutions to deal with security risks remote workers might face, remote workers should firstly be aware of what threats exist, these include:
- Scams meant for remote workers – There will be an increase in work-from-home scams that primarily target remote workers. These scams require personal information or upfront payments before you can begin work. Most people won’t realize that they are scams until they have had their money stolen. We can also see an increase in pyramid schemes or multi-level-marketing scams that are often disguised as legitimate opportunities.
- Unsecured WiFi – Due to the circumstances, many workers will be tempted to use personal devices or home networks to do their work. This increases the risks of malware onto devices, as well as personal and work information being leaked. The devices used often lack the tools that business networks have to protect information such as strong antivirus software or customized firewalls.
- Using personal devices for work – Workers might go out and use public WiFi networks. Unsecured WiFi networks expose your phone to hackers who might compromise your device and gain confidential information.
Many of these security risks can be avoided with the right tools and information, ensuring that workers can continue to do their work safely.
Security Tips for Working Remotely
Implementing security measures isn’t something that can only be implemented by the employer. Many companies have provided their workers with directions and tools for cyber security. There are simple steps that even independent or self- employed workers can use to protect themselves while working from home :
- Secure Your Home Router
In order for you to secure your home router, change your password that you had when you had it installed, using the same password leaves your home network vulnerable. It becomes easy for hackers to have access to information on the connected devices. You can install firmware updates which allow any security vulnerabilities to be resolved. Encrypting your router to the highest level can help restrict traffic as well.
- Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be used to avoid geographic restrictions that are placed on streaming sites. It allows you to spoof your location and because of this, it can improve your online privacy. A VPN is able to encrypt your internet traffic making it difficult for hackers or your Internet Service Provider to snoop.
- Be Aware of Phishing Emails
The rise of people working from home due to COVID-19 has also led to an increase in scams from criminals who are preying on people to make money. Remote workers should be wary of criminals who are sending emails and text messages in order to gain information that they can later use for credit card fraud or to gain access to company accounts.
To identify phishing emails, look out for spelling errors in the email address of the sender as well as poor grammar in subject line or the email body. Don’t click on any links or attachments if you don’t trust the sender and if you do click on them, check the credibility before filling out any personal information.
- Ensure Protected Access
The first option to protect access is to change default passwords. It is recommended not to use the same password for multiple accounts as it will be easy to gain access into all your accounts if you are compromised. Use strong passwords that are long which include lower and upper case letters, special characters and numbers.
The usage of multi-factor authentication can also reduce cyber attacks as it requires multiple identity-driven credentials to gain access to applications.
- Take Extra Precautions During Virtual Meetings
Working remotely has restrictions on how meetings can be conducted and many people now rely on video conferencing to hold meetings. Virtual meetings pose some issues such as privacy issues. Meetings can be password protected by the organizer who can share the password with guests who they want to take part in the meeting. To avoid unwanted or uninvited guests in meetings, the organizer can ensure that they use the ‘lock meeting’ feature to enhance privacy.
- Use Encrypted Communications
When sending out information with sensitive information, use secure methods of communication. Encrypting data attached to an email reduces the risk of unwanted recipients from viewing the information. You can also use encrypted apps such as WhatsApp when sharing sensitive information with colleagues as it comes with end-to-end encryption.
Remote working will be something that most companies have to adjust to and deal with for a while. Being aware of the risks that involve assists workers to avoid cyber attacks and implement security policies before the worst happens.