Five Cybersecurity Tips for Telecommuting 

More employees are working from home now than ever before. The rise of telecommuting has been exponentially sped up by the novel coronavirus as a way to slow the spread, and now some companies are now wondering if they ever need to go back to the office. 

Along with remote work comes more cybersecurity risks, though. The FBI says that cybersecurity attacks are up by nearly 300% as information that used to remain within office walls has made its way to unsecured WiFi connections at home. 

Bad agents, aware of these lax security measures, are taking advantage through phishing, man-in-the-middle attacks and more. Family members and house guests can also pose a risk now that sensitive information is being communicated or kept in the home. 

As an employee, missteps during this period of transition can cost your company liability. Security liability insurance policies, for example, traditionally only cover data breaches that occur on secure company-issued devices. This means that if you were to use a personal laptop to access data, and that data gets breached as a result, your company wouldn’t be able to use insurance to cover their losses. 

Here are some of the more common cyber attacks to be on the lookout for. 

  1. Phishing attack: A Hacker pretends to be a trustworthy entity to gain sensitive information from a user. This is typically done over email or phone.  
  2. Ransomware: Sensitive information is stolen and then a bad agent requests a ransom in exchange. 
  3. Man-in-the-middle attack: Using an unsecure network, a hacker positions themselves between a user and an application to gain information. 
  4. Password attack: The most common attack is when a hacker gains access to a system by guessing a password. 
  5. Trojan horse: A malicious software poses as a legitimate one in order to gain control of your device.  

Protecting yourself and your company is always a good idea. Here’s how to work from home safely. 

Regularly update your password

More than 80% of security breaches are due to compromised passwords. You should change your password at least every 90 days, and sometimes even sooner in order to stay secure. Use an online password manager to keep track of your ever changing login information, and don’t jot passwords down on a piece of paper where they could be found. 

Don’t log on to public Wi-Fi

While this step may seem easier said than done, you should avoid public Wi-Fi when using work devices. Public Wi-Fi can be extremely insecure and put you at increased risk for cyber attacks. At home, protect your Wi-Fi with a unique username and password. When you’re on the go, consider purchasing a personal hotspot (or asking your company to) so you can work from anywhere on a safer connection. 

Update your software

Software update notifications seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times, but they’re essential for good digital and device hygiene. This is because new software updates come outfitted with the latest security measures, often with fixes to bugs. You can automate this process so it’s less of a pain by changing your settings to automatic updates. This will ensure your device settings are always up-to-date.  

Share boundaries for meetings ahead of time

If you are leading meetings, make it a practice to set boundaries ahead of time, especially if sensitive information is being discussed. Send out an agenda well in advance so attendees know what to expect. Don’t be afraid to include a note recommending attendees to take the meeting somewhere private and out of earshot of others for maximum security. 

Don’t fall victim to suspicious emails

If you get a request over email that seems out of the ordinary, it probably is. Phishing attacks are when someone pretends to be a trustworthy entity — such as your boss, the government, or your credit card company — in order to gain your personal information. Unfortunately, 44% of employees have fallen victim to these attacks and they can be extremely costly. 

If you receive a suspicious email, confirm it on another work channel before responding and sharing any information. 

Logging onto work from your couch may seem like the safest way to start the day, but unfortunately cybersecurity incidents do arise. Remember that good digital hygiene and researching risks helps you protect yourself and your company from becoming prey to bad agents. If your company has established a telecommuting policy, make sure to familiarize yourself with the policies to ensure you’re always following recommendations. 

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