The key to defeating COVID-19 in the long term is social distancing that leads to “flattening the curve”; this means that people are being encouraged to avoid all contact with large groups wherever possible to minimise the virus’s spread.
That is why those who are able to are working from their homes, either encouraged to by their employers or forced to through a company-wide mandate while the situation resolves.
While effective, this tactic can create security risks. A practical consideration that must be made, then, is the cybersecurity of all remote workers.
Sadly, times like these present opportunistic cyber criminal types with a chance to use the coronavirus to trick unsuspecting people into falling for their various online scams, and potentially handing over things like sensitive corporate data and passwords.
It is for this reason that the European cybersecurity agency, ENISA, put out a press release last week highlighting some of the cybersecurity best-practices individuals and corporations should follow to avoid falling victim.
Here are some of the key takeaways from ENISA’s guidance that everyone working from home should keep in mind:
Be suspicious of any email that comes in that refers to the coronavirus or COVID-19, even if it is from someone you know. And be especially suspicious of any email requesting that you click on a link to reset or renew a password for any work resource.
“Please try to verify the authenticity of the request through other means, do not click on suspicious links or open any suspicious attachments,” ENISA writes.
Secure your WiFi
Lock your WiFi down with a super-secure password: use 12+ characters and bring in a good mix of numbers, capital letters, and symbols.
ENISA says that some older installations may use weaker passwords, and they suggest that people create newer, stronger passwords for their home WiFi to minimise the chance of someone “snooping” on their network traffic.
Antivirus and Updates
Ensure your anti-virus software is installed and up to date. Even if you only use Windows Defender, make sure it’s kept updated as this can minimise your risks dramatically. Also ensure Windows and your other software are all kept updated; get into the habit of manually activating an update scan once a week or so.
To do that, click Start, then type update, and choose “Check for updates” on the search result that appears.
Keep your work data backed up somewhere, either in the cloud on a data storage service like OneDrive, on an external USB drive, or both. This ensures workers won’t lose much if their systems are hijacked by a ransomware attack and their local files become unavailable.
Use a VPN
It is your company’s IT department’s responsibility to set you up with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection to the corporate network, and you must be sure to connect using it every time you need to access work resources.
If talk of a VPN sounds like Greek to you, get in touch with your IT department as soon as possible so they can set your laptop up properly.
Contact IT for assistance
Your first port of call for any work-related IT queries is your company’s IT department, so feel free to pick up the phone to them any time you have a question.
When it comes to cybersecurity, there really is no such thing as a stupid question, and IT will be all too grateful to assist you and help prevent your issue, even if you think it is minor, from becoming something far worse.
With these tips under your belt, you are well-equipped to not only get your job done remotely, but you’ll be safe while doing it too.