Work from home is the current reality of every workplace. The novel coronavirus outbreak has taken a toll on almost everyone across the globe, and in response, many businesses have implemented work from home policies to continue functioning their business. As a result, employees started to sign in to the corporate networks using cloud applications.
This may sound very convenient and flexible for employees. But apart from all the benefits that work from home culture brings, certain disadvantages also come with it. Remote work exposes both employers and employees to a variety of cyber threats and security risks.
The sudden transition to remote work has left many companies scrambling to formulate the essential policies and security protocols. Since now companies are moving towards long-term work from home arrangements, it is very important to wary the risks brought up by the work from home setup and devices associated with it.
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Cloud-based applications and remote devices are more prone to be attacked by hackers. But during this dark time, let’s look at the positive side. The truth is companies cannot stop functioning for a long time, and uplifting work from home facilities is also not possible considering the current scenario. So what you can do is try to minimize the range of cybersecurity risks.
Given below are some of the practical cybersecurity measures that can help you mitigate work from home threats quite easily.
1. Set up multi-factor authentication
Nowadays, 2FA (Two- factor authentication) is being used by many big websites and service providers. So do not solely depend on passwords, instead have different login setups. Also, do not use vendor-supplied passwords as it is considered as weak by companies and can be leaked, hacked or stolen on several occasions.
2. Avoid public Wifi, use personal hotspot
Public Wifi has the most security risks. So be careful of phishing scams that attempt to steal VPN account credentials. If VPN connectivity isn’t an option, use encrypted email or Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption for data communication.
3. Make work-from-home plans ahead of time
Evaluate your security properly and establish clear remote working protocols that align with your company policies. Use highly protected end-to-end software for intrusion prevention, data breaches, and theft protection on your IT-approved company-issued laptop.
4. Back- up data
Backing up data is very important in this technologically advanced world. Hackers and cyber thefts do not leave any single opportunity to attack. To avoid losing your important data follow the 3-2-1 approach. It is very simple and ensures safety. Make at least three copies of the data in different storage devices and formats, one of which should be off-site. This way, you can retrieve your data if any misdeed happens ever.
5. Make sure you have enough VPN licenses
Since now the companies are going completely remote, the number of remote workers is also increasing. That means companies should have ample VPN licenses and network capacity to accommodate their mobile staff. By using adequate VPN networks for your company, you can keep your employees off from using public networks, which decreases the possibility of your company being targeted.
6. Use Company Laptop
It is much better to use company-owned systems for your work because employees’ personal computers often lack security, which makes them easy targets for hackers. Data can be stolen not only from a personal computer but also from the network to which the employee is linked.
In case, for some reason, you have to use your personal system, then make sure you follow proper security protocols and keep a close check on security requirements. Use business-provided security tools, adhere to company data security policies, and avoid mixing personal and work-related browsing activities.
7. Split your network
Isolate the business laptop or desktop by using a guest network. If your router or switch has a virtual local area network (VLAN) feature, then enable it and set up a separate VLAN for office use only.
8. Be aware of online scams
Emails are essential for communication but are also one of the easiest modes of communication that can be easily exploited and compromised. There are a lot of phishing scams happening in the void of the coronavirus outbreak. Hackers and cybers thefts are using the current situation to execute their fraudulent activities.
Scammers send emails, malicious domains, fake apps, and social media messages claiming to provide COVID-19 information, and even cures through attachments that contain malware. So, be informed about online scams and immediately inform your organization when you see any such attempts.
9. Encrypt sensitive data
Sending emails containing confidential information is always a risk. It is possible that it would be intercepted or seen by a third party. But, when you encrypt the data attached to an email, it prevents the information from being seen by an accidental user. Also, ensure that all stored data on your computer is secured and encrypted properly.
10. Keep your software up to date
To reduce the chance of malware attacks, it is necessary to update all the software to their latest version and also install the security patches as soon as possible.
11. Have a reliable recovery system
Having a reliable recovery system always puts you in a better place. A secure backup and recovery system will save your company in the worst-case scenario.
12. Strengthen your passwords
Always create a strong password that has less possibility to get hacked as hacking password is generally the first approach of the hackers. So don’t become their prey. To manage strong passwords across several websites and applications, use a password manager. It will help you simplify the use of long, random passwords and prevents the reuse of the same or similar kind of passwords across many websites and apps.
13. Track Employees Devices
Businesses need to have a full and up-to-date list of all employee devices with access to sensitive data. Employers should also remind remote staff to always keep their work devices safe. A missing or stolen laptop, computer, phone, or other electronic device often become the source of a cybersecurity incident.
Businesses should use efficient employee monitoring software such as EmpMonitor to track their employees. The tool has amazing monitoring features that let employers know when and where an employee is working. Also, with screenshots and other tracking features, employers can save their organizations from insider threats.
Many companies have already embraced the work-from-home culture globally, and this number is expected to increase. Since employees working from home are turning out to be more efficient, employers are considering making this a permanent part of their business model.
But cybersecurity is also an important factor for consideration. Setting up a safe remote working environment isn’t something you can do in a day. It necessitates a significant amount of effort from all parties involved, particularly for those who are new to telecommuting.
The steps outlined here should make it easier for businesses and workers to defend work-from-home setups from cyber threats.