In recent months the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has spread across the world, dominating the news and having a massive impact on society. One of the biggest changes to many businesses is the sudden shift to remote working. If companies are going to continue to operate then it makes sense for employees who can work remotely to do so and reduce the likelihood of catching and spreading the virus.
However, working from home is very different from working at the office, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. Companies put a lot of effort into thoroughly protecting networks and devices in the office to keep private data secure. Unfortunately, your home network and devices aren’t likely to have the same level of protection, leaving you more vulnerable to a leak or cyberattack.
Here are 8 simple cybersecurity tips to help keep confidential information secure while you are working remotely during the Coronavirus lockdown.
1. Install reliable antivirus software on your devices
Many offices often employ a number of measures designed to protect devices and networks from malware, such as powerful security solutions, restricted access and rules against installing applications on work computers. At home, it is much more difficult to maintain this level of protection which can leave your computer vulnerable to cybercriminals.
It is essential that you install antivirus software on any of your devices that are used to access confidential data from work. This is also a sensible precaution to keep your own personal information safe. If you are hesitant to invest your own money on a security solution, there are a number of free antivirus solutions available that will reduce the risk of getting infected.
2. Encrypt your Wi-Fi router
The best security software won’t help you if cybercriminals can connect to your Wi-Fi or access your router. This would allow them to intercept anything you send online, such as documents, emails & messages or passwords that pass through the router. This is why it is essential to configure your network connection securely.
Similarly, if you haven’t changed the login and password for your Wi-Fi router, you should do so now. The default password for most models is often weak and easily searchable. Make use of a strong password for your Wi-Fi.
3. Make use of a VPN in public places
A VPN is an extremely useful tool for both protecting data as it is moved from the office network and your device. A VPN provides an additional layer of security which hides the user’s IP address, encrypts data transfers while in transit and masks the user’s location.
A VPN can also be used to protect your device if you are making use of a public Wi-Fi network. Public Wi-Fi networks are rarely encrypted which could allow other users to spy on you through the network. When you are connected through a VPN, all of your personal data, such as passwords, will be encrypted.
4. Always lock your device when you leave your desk
It is a best security practice to lock your device when you leave it for a bathroom break or to make a cup of coffee and this still applies when working remotely. Anyone can catch a glimpse of your work emails or private documents while you are away from your desk.
Even if you are working from home without anyone else in the room it is still a good idea to lock your device, if only to prevent an eager cat sending an unfinished email to your boss or a curious child deleting 2 days worth of work by mistake. In addition, it should go without saying that your device should be password protected.
5. Update programs and operating systems
Another best practice for cybersecurity is taking the time to install all updates to your applications and operating systems. These updates often patch new vulnerabilities that are found in software which could be exploited by cybercriminals to infiltrate your device.
Cybercriminals rely on people neglecting to install these updates so it is important to regularly update everything installed on any device that you use for work purposes. In addition, it is often possible to activate auto-updates on your device to help keep you up to date.
6. Make use of a secure and approved cloud network
Another way to keep confidential data or documents safe is to ensure that it isn’t stored locally on your device. Content storage should be cloud-based where possible and that the cloud storage service used has been verified by your company’s IT department.
In addition, it is important that you make use of secure cloud-based apps, such as Microsoft Office 365 or a corporate email system for exchanging documents and any other information.
7. Be careful & vigilant
As always, a big part of cybersecurity is vigilance. A highly convincing spam email can find its way onto your corporate emails system, especially now the number of digital communications will be increasing. Take the time to double-check the sender is who they say they are and that what they are asking for is legitimate.
Be extra careful of emails with links in them. Links in emails are a great way of getting malware onto a secure network. Always check the destination of the link before opening it and if you are suspicious then it is best to ignore it.
8. Create a comfortable workplace
This final tip is less about cybersecurity and more about your own health and well-being. Try to create a comfortable workspace while working remotely. You might be tempted to lounge on the couch with your laptop, but your back will suffer for it. Try to find a comfortable office chair and a desk to improve your posture while working remotely.
Take plenty of breaks, stretch your legs and drink water to keep yourself healthy and motivated. Make sure you stay in contact with your team and try to maintain regular office hours and get plenty of sleep.
Working remotely can be a big change and it is important that you make the effort to protect your work and your own well-being during this time.