Due to the ongoing global health crisis, more and more people are being forced to work from their homes. In fact, Forbes estimates that about 58% of America’s knowledge workers are now working remotely. Of course, with no IT managers around to secure each Wi-Fi network and connection, remote workers are at a greater risk of falling victim to cybersecurity threats.
Recently, the International Association of IT Asset Managers raised the alarm about the widespread potential cybersecurity failures in the wake of the lockdown. They warned that sending workers home might lead to a spike in data breaches. To make sure that you are safe from such risks, here are five cybersecurity tips to keep in mind when working from home.
Ensure your passwords are varied and complex
Your first line of defense against hackers and other cybersecurity threats are your passwords. As highlighted in one of our previous posts on ‘Tips to Overcome Your Online Privacy Concerns’, opt for passwords that are no shorter than eight characters and combine alphanumerical characters with symbols. It would also be a good idea to go for arbitrary blends such as ‘hQ2&5hM8#’ instead of basic substitutions such as ‘s3cur1t1’. If you are worried about forgetting passwords, consider getting a password manager that will store your passwords in an encrypted form and even help you generate secure, random ones.
Backup data and install updates
Once your data gets exposed, it will be extremely difficult to recover, so make sure to have backups that can help you restore data in the event of an exposure. A solid backup plan doesn’t require fancy apps or software – you just have to make sure that backups are done completely and as often as possible. In addition to this, you should keep your apps, including your antivirus and operating system, up to date. By doing this, it will help you stay ahead of hackers and keep your data safe from the latest strategies they are using.
Secure your hardware
While many cybersecurity tips tend to focus on software, it’s vital that you remain mindful about securing your hardware as well. An article on business continuity planning by HP describes how over 50% of U.S. chief information officers (CIOs) claim their remote workers have experienced hacking in the past year, and many put some of the blame on the ‘bring your own device’ policies. One of the simplest ways to secure your hardware is to shut it down overnight or during long periods of time when you are not working. The simple act of shutting your device down can easily break the connection a hacker may have established with your network and disrupt any possible threat.
Limit your social media exposure
During these trying times, connecting with friends and family is extremely important to remain healthy. However, opening different social media accounts while you work – and worse, posting about the things you’re working on – can put you at risk. Remember, social media sites not only take note of your every activity, but they are also rife with hackers posing as friends or followers who are just looking for the right moment to strike.
Use a VPN
Given the sheer number of workers that companies have had to send home, it is highly unlikely that everyone has been provided company-owned laptops and computers with advanced security features to use for work. If you are one of those people who are using personal devices for work, make it a habit to use a virtual private network (VPN) when working. One article by Thrive Global explains that a VPN can help you secure the information you input and download whenever you visit sites you need for working, banking or shopping.