Working from home is the safest option during this pandemic, but is it the safest for your data?
With 51% of American employees now working from home, businesses are implementing long-term adjustments to accommodate remote work (1). Chief amongst these adjustments are cybersecurity-related changes. Many businesses have adapted and established remote work protocols to prevent any data breaches.
As tired as you may be of seeing the walls of your home, there are many benefits to working from home for both the employee and the business. Remote work allows individuals to spend more time with their family due to lack of commute and increases work-life balance. Working from home also minimizes interruptions by coworkers, increases productivity, and improves retention rates due to a more relaxed setting for work. With no one in the office and all communication being digital, businesses are also spending less on office supplies or resources.
Being out of the office means employees do not have the same access to the company’s IT security features. This can make it more difficult to protect employees from cyber attacks and other affronts. A recent study reported that, during COVID, there have been about 4,000 cybersecurity attacks a day (2). Back in July, many public figures saw their verified Twitter accounts hacked, causing information and dangerous links regarding cryptocurrency to spread. People who clicked on these links ended up losing money or information. There are also programs called ransomware where hackers infiltrate a system and require money to give the files back (2). In addition, there has been a rise in phishing scams where people send emails posing as members of a company to elicit personal details such as bank account information. But the good news is businesses are fighting back.
Safety Measures for Working from Home
It is important to implement safety measures when working from home. The security precaution that costs the least is awareness. Educating employees of cybersecurity attack tactics such as phishing emails or downloading unsecured files can help reduce the chance of a breach by 40% (2). The next best step is to ensure that all work is done on a company device that contains no personal information. If this is not possible, it is helpful to limit personal internet use during work to reduce possible infiltration. Ways to do this include using a private browser and updating software frequently (3).
Having a secure WiFi connection can also help you protect your information. With an unsecured network, it can be easier for hackers to infiltrate your system and access your emails. Despite this vulnerability, one third of remote workers admit to using an unsecured network, some that do not even belong to them (4). One reason behind this is that many people may find it difficult to afford internet service. That is why it is important to shop your options on the market and find a suitable provider with a secure connection. For other people, they are unaware that it is not safe to use an unsecured network or they are unsure how to set it up a secure connection. Companies can therefore support their information systems security by checking that their employees have safe internet connection.
Check out this short video for extra safety tips to ensure both physical and structural safety:
Video: Security Tips for Working Remotely by Vyond (5)
Using the Right Security Software
With the increase in Zoom call frequency, a lot of calls have experienced “Zoom bombing” where strangers will crash a Zoom call, disrupt it and potentially share vulgar images. To keep your Zoom calls safe, you can utilize custom meeting passwords that cannot be guessed by a random sequence of numbers. Call hosts can also customize settings so that only they can share their screens; this limits the amount of distraction. Most importantly, Zoom allows waiting rooms that require members to be approved by the host before joining (3).
Whether it is your work or personal device, one of the best prevention tactics is to use the right security software. Anti-viral software will not only prevent potentially dangerous files from being downloaded but will keep your security updated for potential threats (4). You can check your company’s IT infrastructure and security by conducting an IT assessment. From there, you can gauge what measures you need in place to work safely in either remote or on-site locations. With COVID changing the working world, it is likely that remote work will be the new normal for the foreseeable future.
- Zapier Editorial Team. 2020. Half of America is working from home. So, how’s it going? Zapier. https://zapier.com/blog/wfh-report/
- MonsterCloud. 2020. Top Cyber Security Exports Report: 4,000 Cyber Attacks a Day Since COVID Pandemic. PR News Wire. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/top-cyber-security-experts-report-4-000-cyber-attacks-a-day-since-covid-19-pandemic-301110157.html
- HelixStorm. 2020. 13 Security Tips For Working From Home. HelixStorm. https://www.helixstorm.com/blog/security-tips-for-working-remotely
- Green, Steff. 2020. How To Keep Your Data Safe When Working Remotely. Workflow Max. https://www.helixstorm.com/blog/security-tips-for-working-remotely
- Vyond. 2020. Security Tips for Working Remotely. Vyond Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=16&v=n9yYprpKoKM&feature=emb_logo
Blog written by Sarah Kacmarsky