With recent events, many of us find ourselves working from home for the first time. Yet, while companies scramble to make sure employees and systems stay secure, cybercriminals are in high gear. From offering free masks to maps of COVID-19, phishing and ransomware attacks are spreading nearly as fast as the virus. Since February, email attacks alone have increased by 667%.
It’s not just your computer at risk. Many scams are aimed at smartphones and arrive as malicious texts. Downloading the suggested app allows criminals to “listen to you through your microphone, watch you through your smartphone camera and comb through your messages” or locks you out of your phone and requires a ransom of roughly $100 in bitcoin to regain access.
Under the best of circumstances, working from home does not mean defaulting to your home cybersecurity practices. In the current conditions, it’s even more important to take appropriate precautions.
1 Ensure your Wi-Fi connection is secure. After the access point is configured. Change default user name, password, and your wireless network SSID. Don’t use WEP.
2 Check what is connected to your Wi-Fi. Do you recognize all of those devices?
3 Enable dual-factor authentication.
4 Ensure anti-virus software is in place and fully updated. Check to make sure that all security software is up to date and patched.
5 Have a Back-up. The likelihood of ransomware attacks is increasing. Have a back-up strategy and remember to do it.
6 Don’t click on suspicious emails. Remember that there is an increase in phishing scams around COVID-19. Remember: is it unexpected, urgent, or outside normal protocol? If so, pick up the phone and talk to the person directly. Do not click on unknown links or follow instructions in suspicious emails or texts.
7 Lock your screen if you work in a shared space, this includes spaces with teenagers or children.
8 Use a VPN if you have one.
1 Set up a VPN and make sure it is patched.
2 Provide secure virtual solutions. For example, use electronic signatures and virtual approval workflows to ensure continuous functionality. And make sure virtual meetings don’t have unapproved and uninvited guests.
3 Define a clear procedure to follow in case of a security incident.
4 Add Cybersecurity training for remote working. For small or home offices, we offer a free version at https://training.stronger.tech or check out the modules here.
5 Consider restricting access to sensitive systems where it makes sense.
Whether it’s the current COVID-19 crisis or business as usual, it’s important to take precautions to stay cyber secure. Following these basic steps will help keep your remote or home office safe. When it comes to working from home, hygiene isn’t just about handwashing and social distancing. It includes practicing good individual and company cyber-hygiene — patch, update, backup, and follow the protocols.
Together we are Stronger.