Sep 2, 2020

A Guide To Secure Work From Home

Novel corona-virus has shut the markets physically and made them virtual. Work couldn’t be put to a standstill, so it just moved online. It has changed how people work and taught us that being productive doesn’t require being within four office walls, it can be done within the four walls of our home as well.

While you enjoy that relaxing couch of yours with aromatic morning coffee, why not talk about potential risk of vulnerabilities while working from your personal or office devices like smartphones or laptops/desktops.

While at office, all devices have protection from viruses and malware & something that most of us curse for blocking our beloved websites, firewalls. This is not the case at home. We need to be more cautious as our laptops might not have an enterprise-level antivirus installed and it might result in hacking, data theft or invasion of our privacy.

Here’s a list of how one can save the data & privacy online while working from home.

Strong Passwords

Wait, is it still hello123? 

Almost all our devices are password protected but how far are these passwords even difficult to crack. It’s easy for hackers to crack simple passwords with plain text and numbers, a simple technique aided by a lot of tools called brute force attack or dictionary attack, or even one of my favorite ones, Social Engineering. If you want your personal information & identity to remain private, then it’s essential to protect it from identity theft caused by intruders. It’s worth setting your password to something that can’t be guessed easily.

Why not try the following to jump beyond hello123-

  • Do not use the name of your best friend, phone number, or that cute pet of yours.
  • Instead of writing your password on a sticky note and pasting it to your wall, why not use password managers to keep them safe.
  • Use upper and lower case, numbers, special characters, try using some online tool to auto generate your password.
  • Change passwords every 90 days, or so.

Make use of Proxy or VPN

Virtual Private Network helps you stay connected to your secured office network. It encrypts the information sent across or received to your computer.

It’s useful as it helps to keep away your delicate information like sites you visited online, strategies discussed, new documents published, financial communication, etc from cyber criminals especially an attack type called Man In The Middle Attack.

Proxy connections on other hand works at the application level, for example your Chrome can have it’s own proxy, Firefox another and if you like playing online games, even Steam can have its own proxy. Unlike VPN proxy doesn’t work at the operating system level, you have an option to choose different connections for different tools.

Both Proxy and VPN provide you the ability to browse securely through an encrypted channel.

Read & Investigate

Reading requires time and patience which we lack in a fast paced world we’re living in today. We hardly have time to read what the ‘*’ with terms and conditions is stated. And that’s where we fall short and where problems arise.

Privacy policies, terms conditions, should be read well for any loopholes that you might get tied into. Investigate well before shopping online, or gaining access to some tempting offer, feeding your credentials anywhere, an email or a job offer you came across or scams that may pose as legitimate and engaging, so that you don’t fall prey to hackers sitting ready to fetch your data.

Check your address bar for fake Urls, remember google.com and gooogle.com are different sites.

Don’t be impulsive

We often come across a tool that doesn’t work well, might be an app for video calling or a site for money transfer and one might want to download a substitute. As captivating as it seems, don’t opt for it due to the security problems it may carry in disguise. The apps employees use are made secure by the employer so one might put himself at risk by engaging otherwise.

Beware of phishing emails & scams

These have become very popular and rampant. These are emails may look like — “verify your Netflix account” or “You cannot use your account unless you verify it” or “your account has been flagged”

These may appear as if sent from official sites or the company but they are links that lead the cyber criminals to your laptop directly. Hence, do not click on any embedded link or attachment & report it to your employer. Avoid sharing personal information on social pages, it could lead to scams/phishing.

Keep your systems and programs up-to date

Every update sent by your operating system and software provider is patched for bugs and issues identified by them. Doing this ensures and improves security as the problems or loopholes of the previous version have been fixed and work efficiently.

Install antivirus and Internet security

It’s not the age of USB’s but viruses now reside in the cloud too. This is a must have while working on any computer or laptop, there is no way around it. Improve your cyber security & reduce the risk of your laptop getting infected while remote working by installing antivirus, anti-malware, and all anti* software that prevents you from another Trojan on your device.

Keep privacy in Check

Planning to grab a cup of coffee? Keep your devices locked while not using them or while away. Avoid oversharing of screens while calls with the team.

Ensure your Wi-Fi is encrypted, so that your data is safe from prying eyes as once a person gets access to your router, he can easily get access to your device. A complicated password for your router can result in a frustrated neighbor who was trying to add your phone number for your WiFi router password.

Making sure that sensitive files and documents remain confidential while remote working is an issue that needs to be tackled. Thus, keep yourself, your data & your personal information off the radar-

Stay vigilant by not giving in to illogical exciting offers even if it’s the dream offer you were looking for. Keep your emotions in check as the scammers know what you want, and will try to pry you into an opportunity that would play on your mind.

While coming across a job or offer, clear doubts before making a decision, carry out some research on the web, look for official sites, validity of the organisation, etc.

You often store your sensitive data securely, but don’t forget to do the same while disposing it. Follow the employers security practices & use company approved storage solution.

Protect your device from unauthorized access by using security patches like antivirus.

Last but not the least, keep yourself in check. Maintain a comfortable workplace and don’t neglect your health. Don’t slouch on the sofa, instead use a chair, stretch often, stay hydrated, get enough sleep & don’t forget to hold on, stay home a little longer.

Leave a comment