When employees packed up their computers and closed down their work spaces in March, most didn’t think they would still be in their makeshift home offices more than six months later. The forced exile is lasting well into the new year for many, which has made new approaches and evolved thinking around cybersecurity a necessity.
Reminding employees consistently about the importance of cybersecurity is a necessity at these times. Cybercriminals are, as usual, taking advantage of the opportunities presented by a worldwide pandemic. CNBC reports that hackers are taking advantage of the upheaval and uncertainty caused by COVID-19, and have been quite successful. Domain names with the word “corona” or “covid” in them numbered at 190 just last year. Today, there are more than 70,000 URLs, some of which turned out to be phishing attacks. Fake sites also offer items like hand sanitizer and toilet paper when they can’t be found in stores, only to never deliver the actual product. It’s unfortunate, but users should be even more careful than ever at this time.
Securing Your Home Network
The home networks people are using to log on to their work computers are – generally speaking – quite safe. But given the additional level of vulnerability to individuals – both your work and your home information could be accessed by cybercriminals – it makes sense to take some additional precautions. The cybersecurity experts at Norton advise all holders of home network systems to take the following simple steps to strengthen your wall of defense.
- When people have their home internet installed, they are assigned a default name for their Wi-Fi. It’s usually a combination of the name of the provider plus a series of numbers and letters. That provides valuable information to cybercriminals, including the type of modem you have. It’s recommended you change this as soon as possible. If you need assistance, call your provider.
- When you change the name of your Wi-Fi, also change your default password. Make sure it is at least 20 characters long and consists of a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Inquire with your internet provider about any additional (or existing) encryption features their systems may provide.
- When you go to sign in to any network, you can usually see a long list of the many other networks that are available in the area. Find out how to turn off broadcasting your Wi-Fi name so that nobody will even try to access it.
- Ask your internet provider how often security updates are installed to ensure your modem always has the most up to date software.
- It is possible to add an additional firewall for your home network, which is usually done by a professional.
- Use a VPN and help groups of users protect each other against cybercrime.
Public Networks and Safety
You can do all you can to protect your home networks from cybercriminals, but working from home doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to stay in your home all the time. It’s perfectly reasonable to take your laptop and head out to your favourite coffee shop for an hour or so during the day. This does open you up to risk from savvy cybercriminals looking to take advantage of weak firewalls, however.
When using a public network with a work computer remember to:
- Make sure the network is password protected and secured
- Don’t access sensitive personal data (such as your bank account)
- Do not make online purchases
- Disable file sharing
- Stick to websites with the prefix https://
- Stay off the cloud if possible
If you absolutely must access resources such as Google docs or a financial centre, consider setting your phone up as a hot spot rather than using public WiFi.
Don’t forget, either, that criminals can be very smart, and can use “overheard” conversations to their advantage. People taking meetings in public places should take care not to reveal any sensitive information that could be used against them or their company.
Purchase Cybersecurity Insurance
Cybersecurity insurance has now become a common rider on most home insurance plans. If you are unsure if you have it, give your provider a call to have it added to your policy.
Cybersecurity insurance policies can be configured to cover you for losses and liabilities resulting from:
- Privacy breaches (first-party and third-party)
- Computer hacking
- Identity theft
- Phishing scams
- Internet extortion
- Breaches of cyber security
- Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks
Although cybersecurity insurance won’t protect the company you work for, it will protect you and your family from the financial repercussions that come with getting hacked.