The prevalence of cybersecurity threats associated with remote working has forced enterprises to invest in security tools, and strategies move from nice to have to must-have. Businesses- both large and small, governmental, and non-governmental organizations and individuals- are now realizing how crucial it is to continually invest in cybersecurity to improve security for remote workers. This way, an organization will stay competitive in the market.
Failure to install security tools and follow security best practices could lead to irreparable damages. Plus given the prevailing security threat landscape, it is not enough for organizations to only invest in protection alone but the overall security posture. This means that the investment in data and system protection, threat detection, and quick response plan must be aligned.
Although remote working has been here with us for such a long time, its pervasiveness has mainly been spearheaded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the threat landscape is wider than ever before. This guide explores the strategies to counter the dangers of remote working.
Get a VPN
Every remote worker should know that we live in a wild internet era where behind every click comes potential danger. Not having a Virtual Private Network is like working in insecurity, exposing your identity and all your data to scammers, cyber fraudsters, and hackers. Virtual Private Networks remain an indispensable factor for remote working security.
Until now, there has always been a clear distinction between private and public networks. The public network’s operation is so relative to the public telephone, just a large composition of unrelated users that freely communicate and exchange information with one another. The people who have access to the public network should not necessarily know one another. Remote workers who use public networks are vulnerable to cyber threats such as Man-In-the-Middle attacks.
To deal with vulnerabilities of public networks, private networks came in. A private network is composed of computers owned by a single entity, which only communicate specifically with each other. No outside party is involved. The parties communicating within the organization have full assurance that they are the only ones using the networks.
The communication happening between the parties will (at worst) only be viewed by others within the organization. Most organizations will always draw a clear line between private and public networks at the gateway router by erecting firewalls to prevent intruders or people with malicious intent on the public network from accessing the private network. To enable security for remote workers, they should ensure that they use a VPN.
Implement Two-factor Authentication
The two-step authentication is an extra authentication system that requires a user to enter an additional credential apart from just using the login credentials. For instance, a user will be required to enter a user-generated PIN that will be sent to him via text or email. A user can also enter a secret code or word such as the name of a favorite football team or a pet’s name.
With the evolving technology, the biometric system has emerged yet another extra authentication feature. Fingerprints and face recognition are now being used to authenticate account users.
The fact remains, passwords can never be enough to secure your accounts. They are prone to brute-force attacks, and the fact that you are now working from home, you will need an extra security authentication layer to strengthen your security walls. Since most remote workers might be using vulnerable public networks, two-factor authentication can help to reduce the cases of unauthorized access. If you are a remote worker, ensure that you enable this feature to be on the safer side.
Use a Password Manager
A password is the first defense line that will protect your network from unauthorized access or a data breach. Weak passwords mean that you have a weak line of defense vulnerable to cyber attacks. A strong and unique password, on the other hand, indicates that your network can withstand any attempts by malicious individuals to access your networks.
Working remotely increases your vulnerability to hackers because IT experts are nowhere to help. For that reason, it is crucial to ensure that you follow the best password practices. An ideal password is strong enough to withstand the waves of brute force attackers. A password is strong if it is a blend of numbers, letters, and special characters. The password should also be long enough. Generally, the longer the password, the safer it is.
There should be a unique password. According to a 2019 Google study, almost two-thirds of people use the same password across multiple platforms. A unique password is which has not been used somewhere else. Using one password for multiple accounts increases your vulnerability to data breaches. A hacker just needs to get hold of your passwords to compromise multiple accounts. To increase the extent of a data breach, ensure that you use a different password for all accounts.
Lastly, it matters a lot where you store your passwords. Not even your closest family members or friends should know your password. In cyber security, you should trust no one. Writing your login credentials on a piece of paper or allowing your browsers to store the passwords puts you in a dangerous spot. A friend or family can maliciously use your passwords to compromise your networks.
Install an Anti-virus Software with Firewall
Installing anti-virus software is the simplest and one of the most effective security tools for your remote work. Working from home leaves you vulnerable to malware attacks. The anti-virus software will play the arduous task of giving you automatic remote working safety from several malware threats.
There is no other way around it. You just have to buy and install the anti-virus software to be safe. The software will detect any malicious codes and prevent them from being executed. Acquire one today to be on the safer side.
Forestall Public Wi-Fi
You are far away from your company network, but that does not mean that you should be careless enough to expose crucial company data to danger. Never use public Wi-Fi to perform your work chores. As much as it might look like a cheaper option, using public Wi-Fi brings tremendous cyber risks.
Using public Wi-Fi makes you vulnerable to attacks such as Man-in-the-Middle attacks, malware distribution, snooping, and sniffing. These threats can compromise your entire workload and give hackers access to other company networks. The best strategy is to avoid using public Wi-Fi.
Do not Open Unsecure Websites
Today, there are a lot of phishing websites. Hackers are using these websites to collect information that could compromise your work. Check website legit or not by looking out for some fundamental trust indicators.
For instance, you should ensure that the website has working contact information and an SSL certificate. You can go a step further to check out website reviews to ensure that the website is what it says to be.
Keep your operating system (and all apps) up to date
Cyber threats are rapidly growing. Hackers are coming up with new hacking techniques. For that reason, web developers are also keen to develop new patches and security fixes that address these loopholes. They will release a more advanced software or operating system to address the vulnerabilities. You then have to install the update once it has been released and tested. Failing to make the update puts your remote work in a dangerous spot.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on how we do things. Today, most people are now working remotely because of the lockdowns and the need for social distance. The situation brings a lot of security challenges. Hackers are taking advantage of the situation. Remote workers ought to extra vigilant and take preventive measures explained above to remain safe.