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Business + IT Insights

Remote Security: How to Avoid Cyberattacks While Working From Home

Posted by Dave Lazor on Fri, Apr 10, 2020

Father and Schoolgirl Working From HomeOur lives and workspaces have changed drastically over the last couple of weeks. We’ve had to shift quickly to completely different ways of working and collaborating. It’s been a hard transition for many people and businesses, but at this point, many people have successfully adapted to working from home and are settling into this new normal.

Now is a good time to consider the new cybersecurity risks that we face by working from home. It’s at times like these, as your company is implementing new work styles, that your data is most at risk. That means it’s more important than ever to focus on some basic precautions you and your company can take to keep your data secure.

Actions You Should Take to Reduce Your Cybersecurity Risk When Working From Home

The three areas that present the most risk for team members working from home are:

  1. Unsecured networks
  2. The use of personal devices that are not as secure as work devices
  3. The rise of phishing attacks targeting remote workers

In this insight piece, we’ll dig into why each of these areas pose potential IT security threats, as well as discuss some remote security tips to keep your team secure.

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How to Maintain Security When Team Members Work Remotely

1. Unsecured Networks

The Problem

Wi-Fi networks are inherently vulnerable to cyberattacks. While your business has protections in place that keep your internet connection secure, many home networks or other remote work setups are not set up the same way and are much less secure.

The Solution

If your home Wi-Fi network was installed in recent years, it likely came with password protection. However, if it’s older, you should check to see if it has been set up with a password. Ensure that you are using a secure, unique password without personally identifying information for your network. This is what Microsoft recommends for strong password creation:

  • Is at least eight characters long
  • Doesn't contain your username, real name or company name
  • Doesn't contain a complete word
  • Is significantly different from previous passwords
  • Contains uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols

Additionally, if possible, create a separate login for your Wi-Fi network. This will allow you to connect independently from others isolating with you (kids, spouse, etc.) and help safeguard your data from less secure devices that are using your network.

Finally, as you work remotely, utilize your smartphone’s personal hotspot rather than using a public Wi-Fi connection.

2. Personal Device Management

The Problem

Many businesses were unprepared for the quick transition to mobile workplaces and were not able to supply their team with laptops. This has resulted in many team members using their personal devices for work. Personal devices often are not set up to be as secure as business devices.

The Solution

  1. If you don’t already have antivirus software installed, make sure you do. At Lazorpoint, we use either Windows Defender, which is free with Windows or BitDefender, which is not free but highly recommended and effective. If you are looking for another free option, AVG is a good option as well. Whichever antivirus software you choose, make sure that you’re only getting it from a reputable source, such as directly from that vendor.
  2. Make sure that your computer has its firewall set up. Here’s how to check and enable the Windows Defender firewall if you are using Windows 10.
  3. Ensure that your data is backed up so that it can be recovered if your computer breaks down or if you are a victim of a cyberattack. If you are using a cloud service such as Microsoft Teams, make sure that you save your files on the platform so that they will automatically be backed up. If you don’t have the set up for your workplace, now would be a good time to do so. Microsoft is giving away Teams for six months for free.

3. Coronavirus-Based Phishing Attacks

The Problem

Since January, the number of coronavirus-themed cyberattacks has skyrocketed. Many of these attacks start as phishing emails that prey on people’s concern and curiosity around the epidemic.

The Solution

  1. Keep your team informed about the risks and ask them to pay close attention to their emails. The FBI recently listed some forms of the scams in a recent public service announcement.
  2. Enact organizational cyber protections such as disabling automatic forwarding and enable email banners that identify emails originating from outside the company.
  3. Set up multi-factor authentication for your accounts.

For more information on protecting your team from a Coronavirus phishing attack, read our latest insight.

These work-from-home security tips should help mitigate the risk to you and your team’s data. If you are looking for more support on securing your team’s remote security, schedule time to talk with an expert.

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