Cyber Security for Remote Workers: 7 Ways to Work Safer
As the pandemic took hold of the world, 64% of employees have reported switching to working remotely from their homes. This number was already trending upwards—the restrictions of the pandemic undoubtedly acting as a catalyst, combined with the continued digitisation of our lifestyles.
While there are many benefits to this remote shift, one of the less glamorous downsides is the increased exposure of remote workers to cyber security attacks. Working from home has brought with it all of the dangers of existing cyber threats and made new and more advanced techniques even more likely to be attempted by cyber criminals.
For this reason, GFK’s expert Perth cyber security branch has put together the 7 key takeaways for our clients who have remote workers they wish to keep safe. Ranging from simple to more complex, these tactics will protect your business’s data and that of your employees.
Let’s jump in.
Alternating to Stronger Passwords
This is step one. Something so simple, yet something that so often gets overlooked. If you feel like you haven’t changed your passwords for years, it’s because you probably haven’t. Since easy login credentials make you much more prone to cyber threats, simply educating your remote workers of the risk and setting guidelines that ensure regular password changes, could prevent data from being hacked easily.
A few simple rules to implement—don’t use extra simple characters or digit numbers like 1 through 9 or your name and surname. These are not strong passwords, instead, use a random password generator and write it down somewhere appropriate so you don’t lose it. Finally, it should go without saying, but using the same password for different accounts is a bad idea. A pro tip—for those that tend to forget their passwords, a password manager that keeps all your different passwords in one place is a good solution to this problem.
Without the safeguards of in-house IT infrastructure, remote workers are often using their IP address—which is fine in itself if there’s no sensitive data at risk—but it does make them more vulnerable to cyber attacks. That’s why utilising a VPN is a great first line of defence. If remote workers don’t want their IP address to be breached, they should consider using a VPN and remember to keep it on at all times, especially when using work devices outside of work hours.
By keeping the VPN on, the IP address can’t be triangulated to one location, significantly improving cyber security when they are working from home. For remote workers wanting in-depth guides on how VPNs can help with cyber security, reading this guideline thoroughly will help them out immensely.
Track and Avoid Phishing Links
Phishing links or emails use malware to get the credentials from remote workers when they follow links and enter sensitive data unaware that they have entered a website or workspace via a fraudulent link. Because of this, our expert team will be sure to install high-grade anti-phishing software which scans and secures any inbound suspicious material that could be a phishing attack.
The things we recommend our clients’ remote workers look out for in dubious links are grammatical errors, wrong or unheard of domains, and carefully opening emails from unknown addresses from domains that aren’t as well-known as Google or Outlook. It’s safe to say that cyber security for remote workers will greatly improve if employees don’t click on every link they come across.
Implementing a Credible Antivirus
This is by far the most practical and constructive way remote workers can dodge cyber threats or direct attacks. Global cyber crime has taken its toll, with one study suggesting that the costs will continue to grow exponentially in the upcoming years.
As a measure to reduce the cyber security risks of working from home, implementing a credible antivirus program will sidestep threats such as malware, daily breaches, worms, trojans and notorious phishing links. Interestingly enough, remote workers rarely even notice when antivirus software is working full throttle to disarm possible cyber threats—not knowing that this sort of software is installed on work devices in the office.
Auto-lock Any Device
Sometimes, remote workers like their cup of coffee fresh and hot (and not instant), so they visit a coffee shop and work some hours from there. Although a great use of this new remote model, it can lead to problems if the devices that you work on aren’t properly locked. So, while going to the bathroom or when leaving a device unattended it’s always best to enable an auto-lock system.
This will help your remote work cyber security by requiring a password after a fixed period. When remote workers come back to their device; they would need to enter the password to start working again. 3 to 5 minutes is enough for your laptop, while 30 seconds at most will suffice for your smartphone. It sounds simple, but the tiniest details can save a lot of headaches in the future.
Shield the Home Wi-Fi
As with strengthening the passwords from the remote worker’s account, shielding the password of your Wi-Fi, and making it more powerful is also a must. This is one of the simplest yet most efficient ways to elevate cyber security for remote workers. Besides changing the password, all they need to do is switch the SSID so it’ll be even harder for cyber criminals to breach it.
It’s advised not to leave out the SSID or even passwords with sensitive information such as your address and name or surname. Additionally, changing your router settings is highly recommended.
Install Systematic Updates
Yes, we get how software updates are a real nuisance, and everyone thinks that when the update finishes, nothing significant has appeared to change. This is simply not the case, since the apps you’re using may be at risk of cyber threats just by being not updated. It’s straightforward since updates are automatic most of the time; you just need to choose to update the software while you’re dozing off at night. This should be highly encouraged within remote workers.
So, What’s The Best Way to Keep Your Data Safe?
Well, as cyber security providers and enthusiasts, we hope you agree—all of the above! As remote workers are more particularly at risk of viruses and phishing attacks due to not being protected from in-house IT infrastructure, we would first advise to install advanced antivirus and phishing software. The experts at GPK can help you choose the best providers and implement these systems for your business. Secondly, making sure your remote workers are changing passwords regularly, enabling locks on devices and using VPNs at all times are great cyber security measures that are easily implemented.
Remember, the best offence is a good defence. Do the simple things right and you will be working safer as a remote worker!