Even during normal times, working from home can leave your data open to hackers, and these definitely aren’t normal times. There are millions of people across the globe that have been ordered to stay indoors to “flatten the curve.” This is obviously in terms of the infection rate of the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus. Since many people are working from home and using their personal phones and computers, it can make them easier targets for hackers. As such, working from home safely is something you need to consider.
At your workplace, you may be protected by corporate software that scans files and links that you click on to protect your data. However, at home, you may not have such mechanisms in place to protect your computer. With the overwhelming information about the pandemic spreading across the nation and the logistical issues that come with staying inside, worrying about data breaches may not even have crossed your mind. The fact that we are so distracted by all of this can mean that we are more vulnerable to scams.
But don’t worry. There are some simple solutions that you can implement to reduce your risk of being hacked.
Cybersecurity firms have been stressing that hackers are becoming more and more active as each day passes, which is why implementing these safety measures is a must. Researchers have found that a 37% increase in hacking incidents has been seen in March, that is over six times their usual level* . Hacking threats also use the words “COVID-19” and “coronavirus” to trick people into installing software that is malicious or giving up their sensitive information. Microsoft has also noticed this trend and stresses how important it is to protect yourself and your data from hackers.
Working to limit hacking can actually prevent a mess at work and keep the company’s data safe. Working from home safely can be achieved through the following measures.
Updating Your Software
At the workplace, the IT department of the company probably ensures that all your software is up to date. Since you aren’t in your office, you don’t have someone automatically updating the software for you. Professionals agree that ensuring that your software is updated can be one of the most vital things you can do to protect your data and privacy from hackers.
Software companies regularly launch upgrades to fix old security flaws. If you don’t upgrade and continue to work with an old system, you can open up your computer to all sorts of attacks. Upgrading the system is a bit like changing the locks; the hackers won’t be able to get in with the keys to the old lock.
However, it doesn’t stop with updating the applications that are running on your laptop or your phone. You have to make sure that the operating system is also upgraded. The routers for your internet also need to be secured properly.
Using Two-Factor Authentication
When hackers enter a system, the first thing they do is to try and access your passwords and usernames. This can be scary, but you can take some steps to protect yourself. Two-factor authentication can help you out here. It will require you to enter onetime codes or identify yourself from a different device, which can alert you when someone is logging into your account.
This way, stealing your password will not be enough for the hacker to get into your account, which makes it an effective way to stop hackers. There are security settings you can access from Google and Microsoft cloud where you can turn these features on.
Stay on Alert for Phishing Scams
Just like you need to know what’s what when it comes to the coronavirus, you need to stay alert when it comes to phony messages by scammers and hackers, also known as phishing. You need to keep a constant guard against such scams.
Microsoft has found out that 91% of hacking attacks are through phishing attacks, which is sent through malicious emails. These emails can come in many different forms. Some may promise users important information on coronavirus spread while others may seem like they were sent by your colleague. All such files can infect your computer or rob you of your precious earnings.
When you are working, you can always ask your colleagues about the strange email since they are probably working a few cubicles away. However, since you’re home, you should take extra steps to verify the information before doing anything.
Get Better Personal Security
You will probably have security tools and corporate anti-virus software running on your work computer. You can take it home so that you have such measures to protect your data from home. You can also get access to the corporate VPN, which can grant your access to the company’s network. This way, your employer may be able to take some extra security measures to protect you from far away. This may not work for all companies, but you can always check back with your employer.
Personal VPNs can also be used to secure your device, but they are mostly intended to protect privacy rather than offer protection against dangerous apps and software. Some malicious software is designed to spy on you and your contacts, steal information and secretly download unwanted programs. There are many consumer products that you can invest in that works to scan for any malicious software and unwanted programs (like adware).
Use Approved Software Only
One major concern is that users will try using software that they have been told is good – a prime example is Zoom for video conferencing. Users think that since so many are using it, it can’t be bad, when it really is insecure, bleeds corporate info, sells your personal info gathered and more (we will find out more as New York State’s Attorney General makes public their findings), shows that even a “corporate” solution isn’t necessarily a good solution. Software needs to be vetted carefully before use, otherwise, it puts the business and maybe your staff at risk.
If you keep all of these steps in mind and stay alert, your computer and its data will definitely stay secure. In a hard time like this, it is important that you don’t get further stressed out by data breaches. Working from home safely is possible, so why not make sure that you can continue doing it!
And when in doubt, call us, to assist you in staying safe.