As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread globally, many organizations are closing offices and requiring employees to work from home.
During this time, it’s important for both employers and employees to be extremely cautious of rising cybersecurity threats.
In fact, opportunist hackers are likely capitalizing on the lax security measures for home-office networks and are eager to leverage the cybersecurity issues that arise with remote working to gain access to valuable data.
Whether it’s personal details of customers or company trade secrets, exposure to unauthorized entities can have dire consequences for any organization.
In this article, we’ll go over the cybersecurity risks employees are likely to face while working from home and how to stay protected against them:
1. Unsecured Personal Devices Are a Recipe for Disaster
Working remotely on your personal device? Chances are, you have to download and save sensitive corporate data on it. However, if your device isn’t appropriately secured, it increases the risk of confidential company information falling into the wrong hands.
To stay safe against this threat, you should take the following measures before accessing any systems remotely:
- Equip your device with the security software (antivirus, firewall, etc.) provided by your employer.
- Set up a virtual private network (VPN) to securely connect to the office network and use its resources.
- Keep your operating system (OS), web browser, and other programs up to date with the latest security patches.
- Avoid the use of free WiFi hotspots. If you absolutely must, make sure to use a VPN for security.
2. Watch Out for Coronavirus-Related Phishing Emails
To keep employees abreast about the company’s policies related to the coronavirus, most employers are sending out email updates on a daily basis to employees. These emails, more often than not, include links to information, forms, etc.
Don’t make the mistake of clicking the links in the emails without looking at the email address it’s coming from. Bad actors have already started exploiting the fear and uncertainty around the coronavirus by sending phishing emails.
You should also consider what the email is requesting you to do. If you’re being asked to provide personal information like your Social Security number, for example, close and delete the email right away. Your organization will never ask you to reveal such details over email.
3. Never Leave Your Communications Unprotected
Of course, there are also instances where you have to communicate with fellow colleagues. With in-person meetings out of the question, you’ll have to resort to secure means of communication like encrypted email, instant messaging, and VoIP systems.
Fortunately, many mainstream services such as Tutanota, Telegram, Signal, and Zoom feature end-to-end encryption either by default or as an option. This will ensure that all your work-related conversations stay private from snoopers.
4. You Wouldn’t Want to Lose Critical Data: Backup!
Let’s face it, data loss is always a possibility, be it due to human error, hardware malfunction, or a cyberattack. Take, for instance, ransomware, which often renders entire systems inoperable, and when one finally notices, it’s too late.
Clearly, backing up your data will save you from a lot of trouble. One of the most convenient ways is to store your data on the cloud. There are a wealth of cloud backup services out there; some cost-effective options are Backblaze and iDrive.
5. Don’t Forget About Incident Response
While organizations are taking measures to safeguard the well-being of their employees, incident response policies and procedures remain in effect. If you become aware of a possible data breach while working remotely during the outbreak, don’t forget to inform your company’s cybersecurity incident response team.
They will likely have policies and procedures in place to ensure that this issue is sufficiently handled and further breaches are prevented. The sooner you allow your company to take remedial action, the better!
Wrapping Things Up
The coronavirus is causing more and more people to work from home. And though it may feel more comfortable and less stressful than being at the office, you mustn’t get too relaxed. With a little extra focus on cybersecurity, you can drastically reduce the likelihood of losing valuable corporate data or your organization dealing with the aftermath of a data breach.