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Working From Home & Cybersecurity in The Time of The Coronavirusby@anas-baig
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Working From Home & Cybersecurity in The Time of The Coronavirus

by Anas BaigMay 9th, 2020
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The recent COVID-19 outbreak has taken the world to storm and demands for several instant changes both in the social and business world. Cybersecurity has always been a major concern for businesses and organizations but with the recent rise in employees working from home, the threat of cybersecurity turned multi-fold. Using insecure Wi-Fi by employees is also paving the way for cyber predators and spies. Employees must create strong and unique passwords for accessing the company's software and databases. Employers must opt for encrypted chat rooms for communicating business-related information.

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The recent COVID-19 outbreak has taken the world to storm and demands for several instant changes both in the social and business world. Employees are now directed to work from home and here come some major issues. 

Apart from learning to work with online tools and adjusting the home environment to facilitate working from home, the major problem concerning all employers and their workforce is cybersecurity threats.

Cybersecurity has always been a major concern for businesses and organizations but with the recent rise in employees working from home, the threat of cybersecurity turned multi-fold. The number of organizations and companies asking for technical support and secure networks is increasing every day and it seems everybody out there is concerned.

Why does working from home create more opportunities for cyber attacks?

The recent demand for working from home amid COVID-19 has given rise to cybersecurity threat because:

Working from home means more devices connected with the company's network providing more opportunities for cybercriminals.

Use of insecure Wi-Fi by employees is also paving the way for cyber predators and spies.

Many employees are not familiar with tech apps and online working tools and can easily fall prey to cyber scams.

Manipulative updates and phishing emails are a constant security threat especially while using insecure devices and private internet connections.

Human error while handling the company's database and files is another major reason for the increase in cybersecurity threats.

9 Tips to avoid cyber attacks while working from home

It's high time for businesses and organizations to take measures to reduce cybersecurity threats. Various precautions can be taken to decrease the risk.

1. Train the Employees

The first and the foremost thing that every organization and company must consider is the training of their employees. Training sessions must cover the use of online apps and tools used by the organization as well as safety measures to be taken while working from home.

Training will reduce the chances of mishandling of information by the employees. It will familiarize them with apps and make them more proficient while using online tools. The employees must also be informed about plausible online scams and manipulative messages from cybercriminals and guided about ways of dealing with it.

2. Use Secure Passwords

Passwords are an essential security feature for all databases and tools. Employees must create strong and unique passwords for accessing the company's software and databases. The password must be hard to decode and should never be shared with anyone. Remember, once your password is in the wrong hands all your privacy and data are at stake.

3. Opt For Two-Step Authentication

Using multiple levels of authentication is always recommended for accessing databases and software but it becomes crucial when you are working from home. Employees must be instructed to use at least two-step verification for accessing their company's accounts. It is ideal to use face recognition or fingerprint scan along with a password to eliminate any chances of unauthorized access to the company's database.

4. Beware of Online Scams

The outbreak of COVID-19 led to news and updates coming from all directions regarding the virus. Cybercriminals are using this situation for their benefit and are sending malware links disguised in Corona updates. Therefore employees must be very careful about clicking on any update or link especially on devices that are used for working from home. These updates might lead to the company's data breach and may result in serious consequences. 

5. Watch Out for Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are another online scam and people must be cautious about it. Every mail coming from your office might not be coming from an authenticated person. There might be a slight variation in the web address that you might ignore and may become a source of a data breach.

Remember never share any personal information or your passwords via email. If it is necessary to share, call the relevant person and confirm the mail before passing on any information.

6. Opt for Secure Tools and Apps

As much as employees need to be vigilant, employers are equally responsible for protecting the data. The employers must opt for encrypted chat rooms for communicating business-related information. There must be a secured portal for sharing files and only relevant people should have access to it.

Furthermore, secured and encrypted online working tools and apps must be provided to all employees. It is an investment at employers` end but it is essential for the security of the company's database and software.

7. Use VPNs

Network security is an essential requirement and all employees working from home must use secure connections while accessing the company's data. There are different ways of making your Wi-Fi network secure and the best among them is the use of VPNs.

VPN or Virtual Private Network is the safest mode of online transactions. It provides an encrypted tunnel for all your transactions and eliminates all chances of spying and data theft while receiving and sending data from your device. It is recommended to invest in good reliable VPNs for companies but for each individual employee, this will be a huge cost for the organization. In this case, opting for affordable and cheap VPNs is a good option and can provide a justifiable degree of protection. Opting for low costing VPNs is better than not taking any measures for securing the network.

8. Secure all the Devices

Laptops and PCs used at the organizational level are usually up-to-date and well secured. But as employees have started working from home the issue of device security is arising.

Employers must make it mandatory for all employees to secure their devices with an updated version of antimalware software. This is required to keep filtering the incoming files and links and keeping the device and software safe from cyber attacking. It will also help in identifying any bugs and viruses already present in the system and assist in resolving the issue. 

9. Keep the Alternate Plan Ready

Despite taking all precautionary measures there are risks of cyber attacks and data breach. Companies must prepare themselves for dealing with any unfortunate situation and keep their alternate plans ready.

It is recommended to back up the company's data on Cloud in real-time. This will help in recovering most of the data and will minimize the loss.

To Conclude

Cybercriminals are super active in this COVID-19 outbreak and are devising new strategies for manipulating the employees. They are trying to get the maximum benefit of the situation and are working smartly. It seems quite difficult to ensure complete safety of the organization's database but its risk can be minimized to a greater extent by adopting cybersecurity measures.

(Disclaimer: The author is the Product Lead at SECURITI.ai)