The ongoing pandemic has forced thousands of companies to close their physical offices and adapt to a digital workspace.
True enough, it is being reported that the number of employees working remotely is set to double this year.
This is something that experts had predicted would happen by 2025…but the pandemic accelerated the process.
Of course, staying home is the safest way to prevent the spread of COVID.
However, remote work also comes with its own risks, most of which remote workers are unprepared for.
Particularly when it comes to cyber security.
Even though a company may have their own IT department to take care of cyber security issues, having employees working on personal devices and networks means it’s difficult to guarantee everyone’s safety.
In fact, the decentralized nature of remote work makes the job of most IT personnel pretty much impossible.
That being said, here are some essential security tips for remote workers to make your day feel that little bit more secure.
Educate yourself on phishing attacks
Phishing is essentially deceiving users in an attempt to ‘fish’ valuable information from them.
They throw the lure into the digital waters and wait for you to bite.
Phishing attempts typically take the form of texts, calls, and emails.
The most common messages include sharing malicious links and files, and asking for login information.
When you spot these, don’t click any links or attachments right away.
If you don’t recognize the send then delete the email or text message.
If there’s anything even remote suspicious about the text or email, you should also delete it.
It’s far easier to recover a deleted text message or email than it is to repair a corporate network that’s been compromised by a phishing hack.
Install antivirus software
The user is the last line of defense when it comes to cyber security, and having antivirus software is essential to that.
Once upon a time, I worked for an antivirus provider – companies would ring us to fix their PCs and networks after one of the employees had caused an infection.
99% of them we’d tried to pitch antivirus solutions to several weeks beforehand.
In the most serious example the company actually went out of business because of the amount of data lost to a single virus attack on their network.
While you can go for free options, such as Avira Free Antivirus, the best ones are worth spending money on.
For instance, Bitdefender Antivirus scans and helps eliminate ransomware.
Plus, they also have a password manager, vulnerability scanner, and VPN for safe browsing.
Your IT team will be able to advise on whether or not your desktop or laptop computer is currently protected by antivirus software.
Consider a hardware firewall
Home routers already come with their own firewalls, which prevent intruders from accessing your devices connected to the company network.
Unfortunately, hackers have learned how to bypass many of them. So, a software firewall can only provide you with a limited amount of protection.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to boost your security with a hardware firewall.
These use PCBs that are designed and manufactured with unique materials like copper, solder mask, and silk screen so they’ll last for years to come.
The result is a single device that can accommodate robust security functions for both remote workers and larger office environments— protecting your systems from external threats.
Ensure your passwords are secure
While having strong passwords can certainly help keep your accounts safe, you’ll still get in trouble if those passwords get stolen — especially if you use the same password for every account.
Which is something a frightening number of people do.
How can your passwords get stolen?
This can happen when companies you sign up with become targets of cyber attacks. Indeed, the likes of Adobe, Yahoo!, Canva, and even My Fitness Pal have all had serious data breaches.
As a user, you can combat this by tracking your passwords and keeping them safe using a password manager.
LastPass is a great option because it doesn’t limit to the number of passwords you can store in a free account.
The benefit of a password manager is that you’ll only ever need one password to access everything.
Plus, all your separate passwords stored within a password manager are usually encrypted.
Update your software
Software is typically made up of millions of lines of complex code, so there’s bound to be some security flaws due to the nature of how software is created.
To address this, be sure to keep updating your software to install patches that can fix security flaws.
Without updates/patches, you will eventually fall victim to bugs and malware. For instance, even a seemingly harmless JPEG picture file can exploit an application and run malware.
Yes, viewing an image of a cute puppy or kitten can carry malicious software. As such, you should ensure that your software is regularly updated to ward off these types of attacks and exploits.
And there you have my short life of security tips to help keep my remote working readers safe.