5 Tips on Avoiding Cybersecurity Attacks While Working From Home
While remote working has continuously grown year to year, the numbers hit an all-time high in 2020 as more than 60% of workers were forced to work from home amid the pandemic. Over time, most people have found comfort in the work from home situation as companies consider cutting down on office space requirements and maintain some staff as permanent remote workers.
While working from home comes with many benefits for the worker and the employer, it is also a significant cause for concern to cybersecurity professionals.
According to a recent study by Keeper Security, Inc. and Ponemon Institute LLC, more than 55% of the remote workforce shows no confidence in their company’s ability to protect them from cyberattacks. Some of their most significant concerns include the lack of physical security in their home offices, the increased risk of data loss through hacking, and the possibility of having their devices infected with viruses.
How Working From Home Impacts Cybersecurity
It is often said that humans are the weakest links when it comes to data safety and overall organizational security. With employees working from home, companies have had to go the extra mile to train their remote workforce on the need to protect their devices from cybersecurity threats while working from home.
Even with training, working from home still blurs the lines between corporate security and employees’ personal space.
Most IT professionals are concerned that remote workers use personal devices that may not be adequately protected for job tasks. Most remote workers feel safe at home, even though most of their cybersecurity systems are easy to compromise.
Other cybersecurity concerns over working from home include:
- Lack of necessary resources for IT professionals to support remote workers.
- The inability of cloud collaboration tools to offer adequate cybersecurity.
- Lack of adequate cybersecurity protections for personal networks and devices used by remote employees.
- The possibility of employees using unmanaged or unauthorized “shadow IT” tools to facilitate sharing company and customer data.
- An increased threat of ransomware and malware attacks.
Top 3 Types of Cybersecurity Risks While Working From Home
With the remote workforce potentially unknowingly puts company data at risk, learning about the possible threats can be an excellent first step towards mitigating cyberattack risks.
Top 3 common cybersecurity threats while working from home include:
- Phishing Schemes
Phishing schemes are conducted by cybercriminals posing as legitimate companies or email sources to trick the recipient into availing personal company data or system login details. Once the scheme is a success, the scammer can use the information to blackmail an organization, hack into accounts and steal valuable client and company information.
Advancements in technology have made phishing emails sophisticated and harder to detect since most fake emails easily get past email filters and end up in the recipient’s inbox.
- Using Unsafe Wi-Fi Connections
Current WFH situations allow workers to get their work done from anywhere around the world. Unknowingly, sometimes people working remotely can connect to compromised internet services in their homes, cafés, and other public spaces. Using an unsecured Wi-Fi network gives a hacker access to their device and their connections without the victim's knowledge. A cybercriminal can easily intercept an unsecured Wi-Fi network to access a company network, therefore compromising sensitive company data.
- Use of Weak Passwords
Weak passwords are also one of the most significant risks facing remote working. Cybercriminals use various tools and methods to crack down on devices using common passwords. They take advantage of this human error to get past sophisticated security software and access confidential company information.
Repeat passwords are also a common security risk exploited by hackers. Once they get a password to one user account, they will use the same login credentials to access other accounts of the same user. Remote workers are highly likely to use the same passwords for business and personal accounts, therefore risking confidential information.
Tips on Avoiding Cybersecurity Attacks While Working From Home
Keep Work and Personal Devices Separate
One of the best ways to avoid cybersecurity threats is by ensuring that workers use separate devices for work and personal use. Work devices should be used exclusively for work-related tasks, which minimizes the possibility of hacking, since it minimizes the amount of online activity on the work device.
Most personal devices are easier targets for cybercriminals, especially if they are not protected from online threats. Using these devices for work tasks can jeopardize company data.
Utilize a VPN
Virtual Private Network or VPN is one of the sure ways to keep cybercriminals off your employee’s internet activity trail. With a VPN, people working remotely can secure information transmission channels using data encryption. A VPN makes it impossible for cyberspies to spy on transmitted data by making it appear crumbled. It is essential to ensure you, as an organization, invest in an ideal VPN and require employees to keep it on whenever they are online. A VPN can also keep remote workers safe when using a public Wi-Fi network for work.
Avoid Weak Passwords
Any device used for remote work should be password protected. The same goes for an individual's home Wi-Fi, router, and any other device used to make working from home manageable.
When training your employees to set up their passwords, you should ensure they pass the strength test by including special characters, upper and lower case letters, and numbers. Also avoid using real words and your personal information for passwords. Advice employees to switch default passwords out with unique passwords that are much harder to crack.
Watch Out for Phishing Emails
Cybercriminals are making the most of the work from home wave by sending as many phishing emails as possible. Generally, a typical phishing email is meant to tap into a person’s curiosity to make them more inclined to click on a malicious link embedded in the email. In this kind of situation, it is sometimes advised to apply negotiation practices for enhancing cyber risk management for cyber defense.
The frequency and severity of phishing attacks makes it an important subject to train all employees on regularly. This includes teaching them that before clicking on a suspicious email link, fact-check the sender’s email address and information in the email, among other helpful phishing message identifying techniques.
Consider Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication or 2FA is an additional layer of security that can be used to protect any online account, device, or network, as this is another challenge faced by employees. With 2FA, a user is required to provide an additional layer of security on top of their password to gain access to an account, device, or network. This extra layer of protection is a sure way of stopping hackers in their tracks.
While working from home comes with a lot of freedom, it also comes with the need to ensure high-security standards that match those offered when working in an actual office. Employers can help prevent their remote workers from falling victim to cyberattacks by training them on remote working cybersecurity risks and using the security measures highlighted in this article to remain safe.