Working from home has become commonplace in recent months. Where at first this was considered a necessity, many have now come to appreciate this new way of working and are happy for it to become the ‘new norm’. Regardless of whether you like working from home or would prefer to stay at the office, it would seem that remote working is here to stay for the time being, especially considering the second wave currently spilling over the horizon.
It’s important to bear in mind, however, that with staff working remotely, a considerable shift of security controls can be seen. This means that a range of new risks, threats and challenges have presented themselves, and will continue to do so as remote working continues.
Samuel Johnson, Director at the Essex-based IT solutions company, Mercury IT Solutions, provides his extensive insight into how you can make sure your cybersecurity is up to scratch whilst working from home.
The Leading Threats
Most of those subjected to remote working will be using their own, hopefully secure, Wifi. It’s worth noting, however, that there may be those who need to utilise an unsecured public Wifi network. This will function as an opportunity for malicious parties to harvest confidential information.
Further to this, although using personal devices and networks in order to complete work tasks is preferable to using their public counterparts, these will still rarely be as suitable as the systems implemented within a workspace. Business networks will have built in tools, such as an automatic online backup, customized firewalls and an exemplary antivirus software. Without these features, the risk of intrusive malware, virulent viruses and even data breaches, becomes a much more real threat.
There will also always be those who stand to profit off of other people’s struggles or naivety. Whilst many will be well-versed in avoiding online scams of all kinds, others may not be. An increasing number of work-from-home scams, among others, have already been reported, and without a proper understanding of how to deal with these malicious campaigns, employees may well harm their company or their own livelihood.
Robust Security System
As previously mentioned, many remote workers will lack the security infrastructure that their place of work is equipped with. These essential measures will help to prevent attacks from happening – rather than dealing with an issue only after it’s affected your work. The importance of these measures cannot be understated, as without them, you will be putting your company’s valuable data at risk.
Your robust security system should include a firewall. This is an essential line of defence in the effort to prevent any threats from entering your system. A firewall is essentially a barrier between the Internet and your personal device – this barrier will not only stop intrusive programs from entering your device, but will also prevent your data from leaving it.
Whilst a firewall is certainly essential, it shouldn’t be considered foolproof. Threats will, inevitably, be able to slip through, and this is where a good antivirus software comes into play. Your antivirus software should function as the second line of defence; detecting and blocking malicious files or known malware. In the happenstance that some malware does manage to slip through the cracks, a good antivirus software should be able to detect and remove it.
If you want to ensure you’re well-protected with a third-party firewall and a great piece of antivirus software, the IT support team at a company like Mercury Solutions will always be able to point you in the right direction. In fact, your business may even want to utilise an IT support team to manage your employees’ cybersecurity. In this case, an IT support team would be able to deal with threats before you even know about them – allowing you to spend your time working with no interruptions.
Updates and Backups
There’s no question that the notifications regarding software updates are annoying. Especially when clicking remind me tomorrow becomes a daily occurrence. Software updates really are important in ensuring your cybersecurity is up to scratch, however. Different softwares will often discover new vulnerabilities that need to be patched, for example, and a delayed update may result in a malicious individual taking advantage of these vulnerabilities before you even know about them. Where possible, it’s worth setting updates to run automatically – perhaps whilst you’re sleeping – so you don’t need to worry about delaying your essential processes.
There are multiple ways in which a business can lose its data. This could be a small to major human error; physical damage caused by natural disaster; or some sort of cyberattack. Without a good level of cybersecurity whilst working remotely, the latter becomes increasingly likely. Regardless of what may cause a data breach, it’s vital that your data is regularly backed up. If you are targeted by ransomware, or some other form of malware that is capable of wiping your entire system, your recent backup will allow you to restore all your essential files at a moment’s notice – leaving all your businesses data and hardware entirely intact and operational.
Be Wary of Scams!
Countless cybercriminals are already attempting (and in many cases, succeeding) to profit off of the surge of remote workers brought about by the pandemic. It’s incredibly likely that – if you haven’t already – you will receive some form of phishing email that aims to steal your personal information, or perhaps gain access to your company’s accounts.
Phishing emails are often relatively easy to identify, but they rely on a mixture of fear-mongering and praying on those who are less accustomed to spotting fraudulent emails in order to succeed. If you receive an email that is in any way out of the ordinary or requests that you do something that the sender wouldn’t normally ask, make sure to scrutinize the entire email – including the email address and subject line – for any spelling or grammatical errors. Also, make sure to never click on a link unless you fully trust the sender. When in doubt, make sure to check with the perceived sender, or otherwise delete and ignore.
Cybersecurity has always been hugely important, but with many businesses forced to abandon their security infrastructure in favour of safely-distanced remote working, it’s now more important than ever that every member of staff is well-versed in identifying and preventing any potential threats.