Remote working? Here’s what you can do to stay cyber-secure

Cybersecurity isn't just a management problem – there are simple steps we can take as remote workers.
27 January 2021
  • 2020 has taught us that remote workers are a focal point for cyberhackers
  • Though most businesses have become more adept and stringent on their security protocols for remote employees, employees at home will still need to remain vigilant to threats, scams, and other phishing ploys that might come their way

In just one year, remote working moved from being a mere luxury to a necessity as the Covid-19 has forced the world to work from home. For many companies, this shift would normally require long-term IT transformation efforts but it has not been possible due to the pandemic.

As employees move away from the corporate networks, the risk of cyber threats grows. Many companies attempted to reconfigure networks and systems to serve the needs of remote workforces, but the transformation’s success is often limited by less-than-optimal technology capabilities.

Based on HLB’s Cybersecurity Report, global businesses have seen cyberattacks rise with 65% of organizations noting they have either been breached or exposed to an attack. “Our experts’ overwhelming opinion is that phishing attacks are increasing, and highlight that social engineering is also rising.”

In the business technology press, the weight of responsibility for cybersecurity is usually placed with management – and that’s not incorrect. But the reality is that many companies are taking the necessary steps to create awareness around basic cybersecurity and best practice, and employees are simply neglecting to apply the advice.

With 90% of successful cyber attacks coming down to human error, there’s a lot we can do as remote-working individuals to help protect our organizations.

41% of the American workforce were working remotely in 2020, according to UpWork. Source: Shutterstock

How to minimize cyber risk when working from home

What most individuals and employees fail to realize is the need to invest in a comprehensive antivirus suite for themselves and their employees. Not only it can fend off up to 100% of online security threats, but it also automatically updates itself to stay on top of new and emerging threats.

A comprehensive antivirus suite also runs discreetly in the background of the device’s other operations, so one won’t even notice the hard work it’s doing. Without it, a device is at risk of attacks that could leave them, their business, and their employees open to ransomware attacks, DDoS attacks, malware, spyware, and other types of breaches.

There is also the right way to set up a Wi-Fi network to protect your device from vulnerabilities. Ensuring the username and password are changed from the default ones is important, including the administrator details which prevents criminals from accessing the network settings. Remote workers also should avoid getting connected to public wifi as it is a host to a myriad of online threats.

Cybersecurity experts have also advised using company-approved devices as most companies fit laptops and devices with inconspicuous defenses that improve their security. 

In terms of data storage, not storing data on laptops delivers significant security benefits including reduces the count of vulnerable entry points as it keeps data in one place and reduces the risk of data leaks in the event of a device being lost or stolen.

Scammers are using the Covid-19 crisis as a smokescreen for their nefarious attempts at sensitive data. Phishing emails are a classic way they do that. In most cases, these emails may look like a business offer, a great deal, or even an important message from your boss.

So remote workers have to constantly be on the lookout for odd email addresses and other hints that is alarming about the individual sending the email. More importantly, do not share private information or best yet, do not respond.