Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have adopted more work-from-home policies to keep their employees safe and productive.
This shift is not without its challenges. Besides the obvious work adjustment for many, the sheer numbers of employees working from home increases the chances of being exposed to security incidents. Only recently, the National Cyber Security Centre reported an increase in unscrupulous activity by cybercriminals during the pandemic.
Here are some of the most common security risks of working from home and a few tips for dealing with them.
Common work-from-home security risks
1. Unsecured networks
Connecting to your unsecured home network or an unsecured public Wi-Fi network in a public space exposes you to malicious attacks. In addition, office networks often provide more complex security measures such as firewalls.
Ransomware is a type of crypto virus that encrypts a file, document or entire system and enables blackmailers to demand payment for decryption or unlocking. Typically, such attacks are carried out using a trojan infiltrating a system by means of a preceding phishing attack.
3. Phishing attacks
Phishing attacks are fraudulent activities aimed at stealing private and sensitive information, including usernames, passwords, credit card details and identity numbers. They are carried out by email spoofing, instant messaging, text messaging (smishing), or voice fishing (vishing).
How to protect yourself against these security risks
There are several ways you can protect yourself:
- Only use secure Wi-Fi networks: A secure network is protected by encryption and a password. So, ensure you create a password for your home network (normally by modifying the default one) and only share it with trusted people.
- Use a VPN when possible: It protects your privacy by creating a self-contained network used for encrypted or anonymous communication and transmission of data via the Internet.
- Use secure document archiving: You must always be able to securely access and store business documents like invoices, contracts, plans and HR records – from the office, from home, or on the go. Your company should use secure document management software for accessing and archiving this content. These solutions should have strong user authentication, transfer data using HTTPS, provide document encryption with 256-bit (military grade), have a multi-level access control for documents and settings, track all actions, store all data redundantly, and offer robust protection against malware and other attacks.
- Activate firewalls and use an anti-virus software: This protects and safeguards you against any malicious attacks.
- Remain aware: If an email seems suspicious, it probably is. Err on the side of caution: check the sender and their email address, review the content for spelling and other obvious mistakes, and do not open any attachment.
- Protect your passwords: Put an end to sticky notes and slips of paper under the desk pad. If your company doesn’t provide a password manager, invest the money for a secure digital solution. It pays off.
And remember, attackers do sometimes get past your defenses even when you follow security protocols. So, always create multiple backups of your data to protect against disaster and ensure business continuity.
The bottom line
There are always security risks involved in working on your computer from home. But they're even more pronounced during the current difficult times. More people are working from home where there are generally fewer measures in place to protect you than at work.
That said, there's still a lot you can do. Secure your network and devices, remain vigilant, and use secure document management software.