With the coronavirus pandemic in full swing, many businesses and industries all over the world have had to face massive disruptions. In an attempt to keep the contagion levels below the capacity of national health systems, many businesses have opted to allow their employees to work from home. While this is certainly welcome news to many who enjoy spending time with family or just hate their daily commute, it poses certain problems to businesses in terms of cybersecurity. Even the best DNS servers can become the victims of a cyber attack targeting remote workers. This blog explores how you can stay safe while working from home.
COVID-19 and Cybercrime
The majority of Americans who haven’t applied for unemployment benefits and aren’t employed in essential services are working from home. Home networks are more vulnerable to cyberattacks than the secure ones in a large enterprise. This means more and more hackers are making attempts to steal valuable information by exploiting any vulnerabilities they can.
One of the first cybersecurity fundamentals calls for a healthy degree of skepticism for everything you encounter on the internet. This includes any suspicious links, messages, emails, or files. During a global health crisis like COVID-19, the threat has grown extensively. Hackers are preying on people’s fear and desire for information, for example, by using links that purport to be from the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control. In your haste to read “vital” information, you may click on the link and end up losing professional and personal information.
Coronavirus-themed phishing attacks have been on the rise ever since the coronavirus hit the United States. What cybercriminals are doing is exploiting the general sense of fear and concern among the general populace. Phishing attacks can take the shape of a “news report” about a newly discovered cure or vaccine or even a “test result” claiming you may be COVID-19 positive. Hackers can get very creative using verbiage that targets your emotional vulnerabilities.
SentinelOne is an internet security protection service that protects endpoints like laptops, computers, tablets, and smartphones from data breaches using artificial intelligence. According to the data it has gathered across endpoints, there were around attempted 30 to 37 attempted attacks per 1,000 endpoints up until February 23, 2020. By March 16, 2020, this number jumped to 147.
Scareware and Its Impact
Coronavirus scams have cost countries like the U.S and the U.K. millions in the month of February alone. There are a variety of attacks taking advantage of the prevailing confusion and fear. From banking Trojan malware to fake websites, scareware is stagnating the internet. The global health crisis has also caused a resurgence of ransomware and malware as well.
Cybersecurity Threats When Working From Home
Experts believe that cyberattacks will continue to increase in frequency for the duration of the pandemic. In a time where working from home is the predominant format, endpoint security is that much more essential. However, the fact remains that a large percentage of endpoints remain unprotected or under-protected. Additionally, the rise of video calling and conferencing tools can give hackers a loophole to breach.
Tips to Work From Home Securely
There are a number of tips and best practices that you can follow to make sure your work from home sessions are as secure as possible. A few of these include the following:
Strong Passwords and MFA
Strong passwords are one of the most inexpensive ways to protect your data. Brute force attacks try to guess the password of a given account by trying all alphabetical permutations. By using a strong alphanumeric password with upper case and lower case letters as well as symbols, you can make the job much harder for hackers. Additionally, multi-factor authentication can help add another layer of security to your accounts, just in case your password is compromised.
Private Browsing and VPNs
Anyone can eavesdrop on your internet activities and track your behavior if they know how to. That is why using a virtual proxy network or VPN can help you stay anonymous and hide your identity on the internet. At the same time, VPNs come with encryption protocols that prevent someone from stealing any meaningful data transmitted to or from your device.
Updated Security Software
Keeping your security software updated is key. Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving and need to be dealt with accordingly. Many leading internet providers like Cox offer internet security services that will work and update itself at all times, except when there is a Cox internet outage. Updated software is better prepared to handle the newest types of threats. So be sure to update your software periodically.
Restrict Network Access
When you’re working from home, it’s not just your personal data at stake. Hackers could potentially gain access to your network and steal valuable business or professional information. One way to insulate yourself from this threat is to restrict the number of people who have access to your network. Speak to your provider’s customer care rep to learn how to restrict access to your router.
Only Use Authorized Devices
The final piece of advice is to use office devices for work. Most of the time, these devices have firewalls and upgraded security software meant for business use. These devices may be better equipped to handle working from home securely. Using an unauthorized device adds another risk factor to the mix, as that device has now become an unprotected endpoint.