Working remotely, working securely. Your guide to be secure in challenging times.

As we all find ourselves in challenging times, and with many of us working from home, Mode has looked at how we stay safe and act securely online.

With the vast progressions in the internet and technology, working remotely has never been simpler. Under normal circumstances, we work remotely, and collaboratively all at the same time. Now we find ourselves in unprecedented times and in order to keep businesses functioning, we are being asked to work from home.

However, whilst these technological advances have made our lives easier, with it also comes security issues and this is mainly due to the security threats. Not only is there the potential threat that remote workers have their own privacy infiltrated by hackers, but their actions could also place the businesses they work for at risk too.

What are the threats of working remotely?

  • Scams that target remote workers: It has been widely reported in social media that unscrupulous malicious hackers are using our current situation to their advantage.
  • Use of personal devices: If employees don’t usually work from home, they may be using their own devices to work remotely, thus creating a security risk, because these devices will not have the protection to withstand a hacker. For example, no antivirus software, no online backup tools, no customised firewalls.
  • Wi-Fi networks that aren’t secure: If employees are using their own Wi-Fi then this will be secure, but what about team members who have to use public Wi-Fi which are prime hacking targets, and where confidential information can be left completely unsecure.

What cybersecurity tips can be used to protect remote working?

Firstly, if you are a remote worker, make sure your company has the right protocols in place. Whilst we have all been thrown into the current crisis, but hopefully your employer has processes in place to protect the security of their information. Cybersecurity currently, is of paramount importance.

However, even if they don’t, we have many tips to make sure you remain secure whilst working remotely.

  1. Always lock your device: This may seem simple but is often something overlooked. If you must work in a public place, or you’re living in a shared place, it’s important you have a password on your device. For additional device protection, install a BitLocker.
  2. Watch out for scams: Phishing attacks will now become even more increased. Look out for requests of personal information or requests for payments as a hacker will be looking at infiltrating your bank details. Never share personal information with sources you don’t know. Check the senders email address by clicking on the email address, behind this you will see the true email address. If it looks suspect or has a vastly different email address behind the one on the email, then do not proceed!
  3. Vulnerabilities of Remote desktop tools: A recent 2019 Check point study found there are often security problems with Windows tools and RDP tools. Whilst many desktop tools can be secure, you need to talk to your IT provider about how to keep this secure.
  4. Data Back up: Often human error, hardware damage and obviously cyber attacks can result in data being lost. Ransomware and other malware can eliminate entire systems with out you even noticing. There are so many reasons as to why you should back your data up. The most effective one is Cloud Services back up. It allows you to choose and customise how you back up, when and how you store. Hardware back up is still an option but cloud back up is our preferred option.
  5. Update regularly: This can be irritating! We know! However, it is so important that you update your device regularly. These updates often have security patches where vulnerabilities have been identified. If you set the update to run while you are sleeping, so you don’t need to be disturbed whilst it is happening.
  6. Ensure you have a Firewall: This is the first line of defence and creates a barrier between you and the internet. This can help prevent malicious attacks. You should have a built in Firewall, if not there are plenty of third parties that can help.
  7. Install anti-virus software: Yes, firewalls help you, but that does not give you full protection. Antivirus software is the next line of defence and blocking malware. If malware does break your security, the anti-virus may be able to detect it and remove it.
  8. VPN: Virtual Private Network: A lot of companies use this as a way of accessing internal networks. However, VPN is an important tool to protect your privacy. It encrypts all traffic so that it is unreadable. However, VPN can slow your internet speed so you could install express VPN. Your IT provider should be able to support you with this.
  9. Ensure you have a 2 Factor authentication: Strong passwords are great and essential, however, if your information is leaked in a data breach, then the password will not help you. 2 Factor Authentication will add another layer of defence.
  10. Secure your Router at home: Have you ever changed your password of your home router since you have had it? If you haven’t then made sure that you do. However other things you need to do is that you have firmware updates that security vulnerabilities can be patched. WPA2 WPA3 should be used with high level of encryption available and ensure that you switch off WPS.

Being secure whilst you are working from home is so essential. Speak to your IT provider to ensure that are supporting your security for your businesses data. If you need IT support, then do contact Mode to see how we can support your remote working.

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This post was written by Anwen Haynes1

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