With current events unfolding the way that they have, many people are now being forced to make the quick transition to the work from home lifestyle. While this transition has many negatives and positives attached to it, one of the most overlooked aspects of working remotely is your vulnerability to cybersecurity threats.
When you’re working from your office building, you are working off of the network that you company provides for you. This is often secured by various programs and firewalls, one of the most common solutions being a Software-Driven Wide Area Network (SD-WAN).
It’s tools like this that help keep your data safe and secure when you’re working at the office, but you won’t have access to this when working from home. There could be plenty of other tools you don’t have access to that could also be putting you at risk, such as the proper company devices, updated software, IT staff, and more.
Not protecting your data could put you at risk of leaking private work-related information, or even personal information such as bank account passwords and social security numbers. According to a study conducted by the University of Maryland, an attempted cybersecurity attack takes place every 39 seconds. Keeping your data safe is imperative, so here are a couple of tips to help you do just that while working from home.
Make sure you have a secure connection
As a remote worker without a secure connection, you are putting your personal and work information at risk. Working from your home internet connection is typically much less secure than the one in your office, but there are some ways to help boost security.
Depending on your job, many companies are providing ways for their employees to secure their home connection, such as the previously mentioned SD-WAN option. Another option could be finding a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that works best for you. VPNs help keep your connection to the internet private, which can help keep you safe from hackers attempting to steal your information.
Backup your data often
Making sure that you backup your data regularly can help save you a lot of trouble and stress in the future. Data loss can happen for several different reasons, many of which have no direct cause. You could lose your data to an unforeseen hardware or software failure, the data can become corrupted for some reason, or it could be due to human interference, either negligence or a malicious attack. Making sure that you always have your data backed-up and secure can help keep your mind at ease.
There are two main ways that you can backup your data: either in physical copies or stored in the cloud. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, as they each have different strengths and weaknesses. Physical copies are typically viewed as “more secure” as they can’t be accessed by anyone who doesn’t have access to the actual physical drive the data is on.
However, this means that you also won’t have access to your data if you are in a remote location. Physical data storage also takes up significantly more space. Storing your data on the cloud allows you the flexibility to access your data wherever you are, but potentially puts it at risk to be accessed by other parties.
Be able to identify “phishing” attempts
A phishing attempt is “a method of trying to gather personal information using deceptive e-mails and websites.” People will attempt to convince you that they are from a reputable site or organization, and then try to solicit sensitive information from you, such as passwords for emails or banks, or they could attempt to have you download harmful software on your computer.
While these emails may look very similar to the legitimate ones, there are often slight differences between the two. This could be anything from someone using their first name instead of their last, or something smaller like using a capital letter instead of a lowercase one.
If there is any doubt, it’s best to look at the email closely, or you could instead create a new email and send it to the party in question to see if they had contacted you.
Once you’ve identified the phishing email, there are several ways for you to report it. The first and easiest way is to report a phishing attempt is through the Gmail app itself. When reading an email, you can click on the three vertical dots to the right, and select “report phishing.” Another way would be to report the phishing email through the FTC website. A division of the Federal Trade Commission handles “Rip-offs and Imposter Scams,” and you can file your complaint online.
Best practices recommend that you complete all of these actions to ensure the perpetrator is handled properly.
Don’t work from a personal device
When working from home, it can be tempting to work off of one of your personal devices out of convenience. This, however, can open you up to several different potential issues from a cybersecurity standpoint. When possible, it is highly recommended that you only do work from work-approved devices.
When you’re working from a personal device, there are a slew of issues that can arise. Many people don’t have up-to-date security programs, or might not have one at all. Employees often don’t have the level of security for their passwords that is recommended, making them more vulnerable to hackers.
When selling or giving away a personal device, leftover work data might still be on the device that you no longer have control over. Although it might be less convenient at times, making sure that you are only working from company-maintained devices can save you a great deal of headache in the long run.
The transition to remote work may have caught some companies off-guard, but there are several ways to help keep your data secure when working from home. Secure your connection through either a tool approved of and offered by your company, or try a VPN to help guard your internet connection from outside threats. Backing up your data frequently can ensure that you never lose anything important, and help hedge your bets against unforeseen circumstances.
Identifying and reporting phishing attempts can not only keep your information secure, but help other people down the road. Always working from company-approved devices can make sure you are keeping company data safe, and not exposing you to any liability. Checkout any combination of these safety tips to help ease your transition to working at home, and keeping your data safe and secure regardless of where you are.
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