Working from home? Keep the digital doors closed

The last two years has seen a dramatic increase in employees working from home. Early in 2020, businesses that had not yet adopted a WFH (Work From Home) strategy for employees were suddenly thrown into middle of an IT headache. Finding laptops, installing VPN access, implementing cloud storage solutions, all of these things while trying to manage the other inevitable effects of COVID-19.

Nearly two years later, most business experts and economists are truly impressed with the resiliency of businesses; large and small. It is also clear that even as restrictions are lifting, the business landscape has changed forever. Working from home is the new accepted normal and it has some additional challenges.

There are plenty of articles on how to define your working space from your living space to encourage a healthy separation from work and life. However, there are less articles on the potential digital consequences of having the majority of the workforce connecting via home internet and wi-fi. Where as corporations have likely invested large amounts of time and money into the corporate network that exists in the office, company computers and cell phones are now connected to the average home modem … most of which probably still have the default username and password for the modem settings.

In addition, there is now a higher likelihood that employees might let their children use their company computers to surf the internet and play games. This is the perfect opportunity for hackers to get onto that device. So what can be done?

The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has compiled several tips for remote work. The full list can be found here.

Mobile devices

Without a dedicated workstation, you rely on mobile devices (e.g. smart phones, laptops, tablets) when working remotely. If possible, work only from corporate devices assigned to you by your employer.

  • Use multi-factor authentication. You can add an additional layer of security to your devices by changing your settings to require two different factors to unlock it. For example, use a password or PIN and a biometric, such as your fingerprint.
  • Keep your devices in sight. Don’t leave them unattended when you’re working in a public location and report a lost or stolen device immediately to your IT help desk.
  • Check your surroundings. Be aware of anyone who might be listening to your phone call or looking over your shoulder as you enter your password.
  • Run updates and patches on your devices. Updates and patches address and fix security vulnerabilities, ensuring that your device is protected against threat actors.
  • Enable firewalls and anti-virus software. Firewalls block malicious traffic and anti-virus software scans files for malware.

Phishing scams and social engineering

Scammers steal sensitive information by pretending to be someone they’re not. They may even use information from your social media accounts to make it seem like they know you — a tactic called social engineering.

  • Be vigilant. Take care when you receive messages or calls from someone you don’t know and requests that come out of nowhere.
  • Trust your gut. If a phone call or a message is threatening or sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Think twice. Check a link’s URL by hovering your cursor over it and don’t open unexpected attachments.
  • Err on the side of caution. Avoid sending sensitive information over email or texts.

Wi-fi

When working from your home, you should take steps to protect your own Wi-Fi network. Be sure to change the default password that was given to you by your service provider, and make sure that you are using a passphrase or a strong password that is difficult to guess.

The benefit of working remotely is that you can switch up your working location. Whether you are working at home, a library, or a café, you should always use a secure wireless network. Avoid sending sensitive information, whether it’s personal or work related, over a public Wi-Fi network. Using a virtual private network (VPN) is another way to protect information. A VPN is a secure encrypted tunnel through which information is sent.

 

Are you interested in determining where your business might be vulnerable to cyber attacks?
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