Since its discovery in November of 2019, COVID-19 has grown to become a worldwide pandemic, forcing many people into the safety of their own homes—a process known as self-quarantining. However, many companies have taken the same precautions, allowing employees to work from home. But this move to remote working comes with a few risks, namely cybersecurity.
Unfortunately, security risks have become more common with more employees working from home. ZDNet reports that cyberattacks have increased nearly 240% during the pandemic. A large reason is that hackers know that so many people are working from home, which leaves company data more vulnerable.
One thing remote workers neglect is cybersecurity. Employees are used to the company securing their devices, locking down the network, and holding people responsible. As a remote worker, however, you’re responsible for your own security. But where do you start? How do you make sure your work computer is as secure as possible?
5 Ways to Secure Your Computer
1. Encrypt Your Data
Working from home means that there is one key thing you will be counting on, your network—either through Wi-Fi or Ethernet—to connect to your work and get things done. Unfortunately, personal networks rarely follow security standards of companies, and as a result, it’s much easier for cybercriminals to worm their way onto your personal network.
If a cybercriminal were able to do this, they would be able to view your activity, steal your data, and even potentially inject a virus onto your network. Obviously, you want to avoid this situation from happening. Avoiding this situation requires you to tighten up your network’s security, which means one thing: encryption.
VPNs make for great encryption tools. According to a guide on what is a VPN, a VPN can encrypt your device’s data and hide your IP address, meaning that even if a cybercriminal were to hop onto your network, they would still be unable to view your activity.
2. Watch Out for Scams
Scams run rampant, scammers littering every corner of the Internet. It’s been that way since…well, the Internet’s inception. And while many of us believe ourselves invulnerable to these scams, the facts say that thousands of users fall for scams every year, typically phishing scams.
Avoiding becoming part of that statistic requires that you stay vigilant for any scams that cross your path. This includes:
- Not clicking on any strange/suspicious links,
- Avoiding visiting random websites,
- Never entertaining spam emails.
Scammers have grown smarter, and many people find themselves victim to them every year. As a remote worker, it’s vital you don’t do the same thing.
You need to be especially careful with email. One study found that 92% of all malware was distributed with email.
3. Keep Your Computer (and Software) Up to Date
Software developers play catch-up when it comes to cybersecurity. Cybersecurity specialists and users alike discover new threats every day—ones that were previously unknown. For this reason, many software updates, whether it’s for your operating system or for an application you use occasionally, include security fixes.
These security fixes are vital for security. Without them, users become vulnerable to security threats they might not even know exist. Keeping your software updated is a good way to avoid having your programs or device hacked or exploited.
4. Never Overshare Personal Information
Personal information includes our names, addresses, phone numbers, financial information, and various other pieces of information that are vital to our daily lives. Because of this, cybercriminals love getting their hands on users’ personal information.
However, they sometimes don’t have to do much. Some users overshare on the Internet—through social media or online meetings—making it easy for any stalking cybercriminal to get their hands on that information.
Refrain from oversharing on the Internet. Even if you’re in a Zoom call with trusted colleagues, you should only share personal information through secure lines of communication, such as encrypted email.
5. Don’t Count Solely on Cloud Storage
Cloud storage services like OneDrive and Google Drive make it easy for users to back up their data, requiring little to no input from the user. However, convenience often comes at a cost. And for cloud storage services? Well, they’re not as secure as local backup methods.
Cloud storage services are vulnerable to data breaches and hacks, and if a service were to be hacked, you run the risk of not only having your data stolen, but lost as well.
To avoid this, backup all of your data through local methods instead. For example, an external SSD makes for a good backup tool.
Working from home has its own set of stressors, and of these stressors is security. Fortunately, practicing proper cybersecurity at home is not only easy, but readily available for most users. With these tips, you’ll be able to create a safe and secure environment for yourself.