Stay Home, But Stay Safe – Security in Times of Remote Working

Published: May 28, 2020 6:26:33 pm

Work from home, Stay Home, But Stay Safe, Remote working, Security in Times of Remote Working, COVID-19, Coronavirus A cybercriminal is like your typical common thief – he will go for the window without security locks. Always remember, a lock that can be opened with many keys is not worth buying. (Image: Pixabay)

By Venkat Krishnapur

Every night you bolt your door, double check the locks and fasten the window clasps. You keep your homes secure with multiple layers of physical security to avoid any invaders; but what about your virtual security?

A month into the largest-ever remote working experiment, we have set step into uncharted territory at scale. Work or play, everyone is spending more time online – including cybercriminals. Remote workers accessing their corporate systems from personal, sometimes unsecure devices makes it a field day for hackers to wriggle their way in, uninvited. That is the bad news. The good news is that you are not powerless. By adhering to a basic cybersecurity checklist, you are guaranteed to have a safer and more productive workspace.

Change your passwords, then change them some more

This may seem obvious but is vital security hygiene. Use complex passwords and no, I am not referring to your initials and DoB. Let your passwords have some ‘strength’ – use well-built passphrases that you can memorise instead of easy to guess ones like “12345”. Avoid using the same password for different purposes and change them frequently. If a cybercriminal happens to compromise one, consider each of your accounts at risk. If this may seem like a challenging routine, install a password manager to sort it for you.

The bad guys are out phishing

The Indian crime drama ‘Jamtara’ would have had you guessing that phishing has emerged to be the simplest, yet most successful way of getting into any unsuspecting person’s bank account. Phishing emails often look like they are from a known person or a company you trust, telling you a story you are bound to believe. The contents of the message encourage you to download or open a file or click on a link. Fatal mistake. If you receive a suspicious message or email, delete instantly and never reply to it or open any link or attachment within it.

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Keep your guard up and your VPN on

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a secure link between employees and their organizations to ensure safe access to corporate systems and data. A VPN allows you to mask your location, IP address and online activity. Through a VPN connection, all your data will be encrypted, denying any access to outsiders looking to snoop into your activities.

Don’t trust anyone, not even your router and Wi-Fi

As harmless as they may appear, these too can be hacked. An intruder can take up residence in a compromised router and spy on you because everything that you send online passes through your router. It is also imperative to configure your Wi-Fi network correctly, so your connection is encrypted, keeping information safe from prying eyes.

Also Read: Twitter says employees can work from home forever

Install security software on all endpoints

Your endpoints could be laptops, smartphones or tablets – they are all equally vulnerable to cyber-attacks. By installing the right security software, you can protect both devices and your data. Endpoint protection minimizes the risks and helps you ward off unseen threats. As families come together and share devices, the risks go up significantly. All it takes is for someone to click on a bad link or download a malicious game that can unleash a host of attacks onto your systems. A comprehensive family protection software will help manage your kid’s screen time and protect them as they surf the internet across a host of devices and domains.

Awareness is your best friend 
I agree that keeping your connections and data safe from home is not easy, but it’s not rocket science either. Remember that as an employee, you are the first line of defence against cyberattacks, but unfortunately, you are also the weakest link. Critical thinking and vigilance on your part is the need of the hour.

Also Read: Long hours, coordination trouble: Work from home isn’t really easy

A cybercriminal is like your typical common thief – he will go for the window without security locks. Always remember, a lock that can be opened with many keys is not worth buying.

Written by Venkat Krishnapur, VP of engineering and MD, McAfee India

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