With the somewhat chaotic introduction of remote work, many companies were unable to take the time to create proper cybersecurity protocols. Although companies have a great deal of control while their employees are at the office, that luxury is no longer afforded when everyone is working remotely.

Creating cybersecurity policies for remote work and educating your employees on the importance and reasoning behind them is crucial to maintaining your data security even in a turbulent environment.

1. Know that your connection is secure

When working from home, people are often given the choice to work from a variety of locations. Coffee shops, parks, and other more public areas that offer an internet connection are among the most popular. However, given that they are the least secure, it’s important to equip digital devices with proactive cybersecurity solutions.

Public networks are often a target for cyberattacks, and there are several key aspects that make them an ideal target for hackers. Open networks typically have very little security if any, making them easy to hack into. Due to the free nature of these networks, they are often heavily populated, meaning there are a lot of potential targets in one area. In addition, depending on the network, public networks can also track your activity and gain information from your browsing history.

Make sure that you use any combination of various cybersecurity options and secure network solutions in order to keep both personal and work information secure.

  • Virtual Private Networks (VPNs): A VPN allows you to essentially “disguise” your connection to the internet by pretending that you are connecting from a different location than you are. This helps keep both your location and information private, but might not offer the same level of security as an alternative.
  • Anti-Virus Software: These anti-virus programs prevent your computer from falling victim to a variety of threats like harmful files and viruses that are downloaded from the internet.
  • Firewalls: A firewall is similar to anti-virus software, but instead of protecting your computer from internal threats, it protects from external threats attempting to breach your security.

2. Identify and avoid phishing attempts

Phishing attempts are becoming increasingly more common during the global health crisis. As per the graphic, there was almost an 80% increase in phishing sites from February to March of this year detected by Google.

Phishing sites detected by Google, 2020

“Phishing” is a ploy attempting to gain access to personal or important information from an individual, most commonly through email. Due to the recent spike in phishing, it’s important to be able to identify key aspects of a phishing attempt in order to avoid being duped. Here’s what to look for:

  • The email often stresses an urgent situation that needs to be addressed immediately.
  • The email address is very similar to one you would recognize, but is off by a very small difference, such as a single letter or number.
  • In the body of the email, a suspicious link is included that you don’t recognize. It’s important to report any email that you suspect of being malicious to your IT department as soon as possible in order to prevent anyone else from falling victim.

3. Set boundaries for personal device usage

Due to the aforementioned abrupt switch to remote work, some employers have had to relax their restrictions on the usage of personal devices. Although typically frowned upon, if your employees are going to work from their personal devices out of necessity, make sure that there are specific guidelines in place.

Ensure that you have up-to-date cybersecurity programs installed on all of your devices. Without these, you are putting both personal and company information at risk. Set certain criteria and requirements for passwords. The more complex the passwords are, the more difficult it will be to be breached.

Make sure the device is properly wiped before it’s disposed of in order to remove all the sensitive information from it. Not doing so could unknowingly subject our business to a security breach.

Ensure that your IT department reviews these procedures with your employees and the importance of them, in order to make sure everyone understands the reasoning behind the procedures.

4. Secure your video conferencing rooms

With the extreme growth in video conferencing and telecommunication, making sure that you know how to use all these options in a safe and secure manner is important. Due to the global pandemic, a report from Zoom found , at the end of December last year, the maximum number of daily meeting participants conducted on Zoom was approximately 10 million. In March this year, they reached more than 200 million daily meeting participants.“ That amounts to a 1900% increase in just four months, which makes it a prime target of cybercrimes.

Make sure that all of your rooms are password protected before sending the link to anyone. Once completed, only give the passwords to the individuals that you want to join the meeting, thus preventing anyone else from gaining access. Once the meeting has begun, you can “lock” the room, which prevents any other participants from joining. This is another added layer of protection to ensure that only you and your intended party are present. You can also adjust screen-sharing privileges, meaning you can prevent others from sharing their screen. In a more public meeting, this is a great way to make sure that no unwanted images are being shared.

In the mad dash to become more flexible, remote work has become a necessity in lieu of physical office space. This puts cybersecurity at an even higher priority due to the threats that accompany working from home. Making sure that you have a secure connection is the building block of proper cybersecurity programs, and you can do so by taking advantage of the plethora of security options available today.

Due to the increase in phishing attempts, it’s increasingly important to remain vigilant and on guard against these malicious threats. Although working from personal devices might have become warranted in these circumstances, it’s still important to set precedents and ensure the safety of personal and work data. Since the increased reliance on telecommunication also draws more threats, make sure you are aware of all the security functionalities they have to offer.