As technology continues to advance, so does the way we work. While everyone used to drive to a physical office and work out of a cubicle all day, more people than ever are now working remotely from home. While this arrangement may be convenient, it also opens the door for countless viruses and cyber security threats. If you are working from home, then caution is essential.
To help you out, we have composed this guide that details the newest threats and gives you the proper steps that you need to follow to secure your computer and mobile devices at home.
The Threats Are Evolving
While viruses have always been an issue, the tactics of cybercriminals have evolved so quickly that we now have much more to worry about than just a non-working computer. While that is still possible, it is now easier than ever for a malicious character to also get into your home or employer network and steal all of the data within and sell it to the highest online bidder. Threats have evolved exponentially over the years, so the first step to protection is understanding the risks.
For instance, phishing scams have become a go-to tactic for tricking unsuspecting computer users. These are fake emails that appear to be from a legitimate source, like your employer or a recognizable company, but when you open the link or attachment, your device is instantly infected with malware or a dangerous virus. As the years have gone by, phishing attempts have changed, and now we can also see phishing scams via text messages and voice conversations on the phone.
It is important that you always watch for emails and other communications that look fake, regardless of if it is delivered to your home or office computer. If you get an infected email on your personal laptop, and then you send that file to your work email, then the virus can move seamlessly back and forth. Now, companies that are infiltrated by computer hackers can also be at risk of ransomware. This is a special type of virus that locks the user out of the computer, and they cannot gain access again until they pay the hacker a predetermined sum of money. You do not want to be responsible for subjecting your company to this threat, so it is important to be vigilant.
Issues For Remote Employees
Now that they see more people working from home, hackers are trying new tactics that are specific to remote employees. For instance, if you work at home and you have many interconnected devices, like smart speakers, thermostats, and televisions, and any of those machines share the same network as your work computer, then you could experience an IoT (Internet of Things) attack, and the hacker can use that path to get to your work device. From there, they can make their way into the corporate network.
Cybercriminals also know how often you attend video conferences over platforms like Zoom, so they are trying to get into your work network through that avenue as well. Hackers can make their way into your video software in many ways, be it through a weak password or the use of public Wi-Fi. Once they make their way in, they can either join your video meetings to hear what transpires, or they can hack your camera and turn it on when you’re not aware and watch you or look at the confidential documents that you have in your possession.
In order to prevent the potential of a camera hack, you need to pay attention whenever you join meetings. If you see an attendee that should not be there, then bring it to the group’s attention. You can also change the settings on your webcam program to prevent anyone from accessing it other than you. Finally, consider purchasing a sliding webcam cover that you can use when you’re not in meetings so you can preserve your privacy.
Knowledge is important for protecting your work devices from evolving threats, but so is practicing the tried and true methods that have thwarted hackers for years. That starts by creating complex passwords that use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Passwords should be changed every few months, and every program you use should have a completely different password, so it is more difficult for hackers to catch on.
Employees who work outside of their office or in public places need to take the proper precautions to avoid information leakage. The best way to go in this regard is to install a virtual private network. A VPN is essential because it will disguise your location and also automatically encrypt all incoming and outgoing data so hackers cannot use that information even if they find it. When working in public, you should also always keep your device on you at all times and never leave it unlocked.
It is also important to practice proper data management so you can keep an eye on your files and know when something is wrong. For instance, if your desktop screen is full of miscellaneous files, then it is impossible to know if a hacker has moved, stolen, or manipulated any of them. Keep your data organized, so you are always on top of it, and make backups when necessary just in case you fall victim to ransomware and lose access to your computer.
As you can see, there are many ways that remote workers can mitigate evolving cybersecurity risks. By staying educated, initiating the proper protections, and staying vigilant, you can protect your device and the company’s confidential information.