Remote work: how to avoid cybersecurity threats

how to avoid cybersecurity threats

Many of us have already noticed the impact that COVID-19 has on businesses. It’s not so common anymore to go to the office in the morning for your daily set of tasks.

Instead, we bring our breakfast and a cup of coffee to a designated room in the house and start working remotely. We are choosing bathrobes over suits and Zoom calls over physical meetings. That is the new reality of remote work.

Remote work has become the new way to conduct business across a myriad of industries. The good news is that it’s flexible and convenient. However, at the same time, it introduces many cybersecurity threats, the kind not every organization is prepared for. Therefore, proper education is a must. You should familiarize yourself with the threat landscape that awaits.

Here you can find everything you need to know about possible threats that surround remote work. Also, you will learn how to protect yourself and your co-workers from cyber attacks.

1. Unsafe devices

Unsafe devices

At work, employees are using whatever IT devices are available on the premises. More often than not, an in-house IT professional will vet them and set them up in a way that ensures secure interaction with the environment. This is not the case at home, as your employees tend to use whatever devices they have at hand.

Even though they may be excellent workers, the problem lies in the fact that they may not have a cybersecurity background. Worse yet, they may not have a separate computer or smart device exclusively for work-related needs. As such, sensitive data may come in jeopardy if there is malware lurking on their devices without them being the wiser.

The solution is to provide company-issued devices for them to work on. Also, company policy should specify that employees shouldn’t use them for any other purposes rather than work. This is to lessen the chances of malware entering the equation. Even if an employee’s laptop gets infected or otherwise hacked, the company’s secrets will stay safe (assuming that the local home network is set up correctly). Speaking of which…

2. Improperly configured local networks

Improperly configured local networks

A cybersecurity strategy can only be as strong as its weakest link. Imagine a home network setup that ticks all the boxes, and then you find out that the owner forgot to change the default router password. In such cases, all a hacker needs to do is come in close vicinity with the local home network and log in to the home Wi-Fi network.

A hacker can succeed by using a password he could pick up by doing a simple Google search. If we don’t count the physical distance that needs to be traversed, this isn’t much of a hack, given how simple it is to execute. A 13-year-old could pull it off without breaking a sweat.

The solution is to study up on the best home network setup practices for whatever brand of router you’re using and change the default password. In an ideal scenario, you should be aiming for something complex in structure and yet memorable enough to share it with the people you trust, such as your family members. Make sure to include at least some numbers and capital letters in there and make it longer.

Better yet, why not use a password generator in conjunction with a password manager while you’re at it? This will do all the creative thinking for you and also store it in a safe place. These days, you can benefit from online security tools. Online security is not something to take lightly. A little bit of research about the best practices can get you far.

3. Insecure data sharing

Insecure data sharing

One of the challenges of remote work is to find a solution for secure communication and data sending. In a traditional office, this would either be done through the local office network or removable media. Any directions the employees need for doing their work would be communicated mouth-to-mouth. Team collaboration software, video conferencing calls, and text messaging take the leading role in a remote work scenario. But without the proper knowledge and education, it’s easy to fall into one of the several cybersecurity threats. This can put the company’s data in jeopardy.

First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that not all Wi-Fi networks are created equal. Public Wi-Fi, to be precise, is known for having several vulnerabilities. The bad guys can take advantage of it, so it’s important to protect yourself with a VPN. This establishes a secure tunnel through which all data is sent and ensures that no one can intercept it. For example, you can use NordVPN to secure your internet connection and keep your information safe at all times.

Also, it’s important to establish a protocol that clarifies what kind of data is appropriate to be shared with other employees and what communications channels are considered safe. For instance, talking about a client may be appropriate to do with one’s supervisor, but not with another employee or a third-party contractor. Such rules can protect you and your supervisors from a lot of possible trouble. No one wants sensitive information to fall into the wrong hands.

4. Out-of-date software

Out-of-date software

Software and operating system developers release security updates all the time, and it’s for a good reason. Namely, to fix cybersecurity vulnerabilities as they appear in their products. The problem is, some people don’t take this with the amount of seriousness it deserves and don’t update their software as much as they should. This creates an attack vector for would-be hackers so they can get in and compromise your devices.

Therefore, be diligent when it comes to regular updates and avoid downloading software from unknown sources. You should also have an antivirus scanner ready to go. Initiating a scan every now and then will ensure that no malware is lurking in the shadows.

Talk to your company’s IT professionals. They probably have a list of software that you need. This is an excellent way to avoid unnecessary downloads. If you’re installing unnecessary software or apps, then you might be putting your devices at risk. Don’t forget to check if these apps are safe to install because there are a lot of fake ones. It’s crucial to follow the “better safe than sorry” rule when you’re dealing with cybersecurity threats. This might seem a bit complicated at first glance, but the real problems start when you have to face the aftermath of cyber attacks.

Conclusion

By recognizing these threats and knowing how to deal with them, you’re one step closer to creating a safe remote working environment that will keep sensitive data safe.

These days, hackers are trying to take advantage of all types of flaws. Using unsafe devices or keeping out-of-date software is no longer an option if you want to stay on the safe side while browsing or working from home.

Many hackers might be trying to get their hands on your company’s valuable information. Thus, a proper cybersecurity plan is essential for all remote workers. Also, it doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Just don’t forget to update any important software you have on your work computer (or any other devices you use for work), install a VPN to secure your internet connection, and don’t be in a rush to use public Wi-Fi.