June 30, 2020
Thanks to Coronavirus, working from home is the “new normal” for millions of Americans. This change comes with a number of advantages and disadvantages. For some, it means less time commuting, which can help boost productivity and provide people with more time to spend with their families. For others, it can turn into a nightmare of managing household stressors (pets, children, spouses, etc) while trying to get some work done.
As people adjust to their new lifestyles, they also adjust to new security concerns. While businesses want to boost cybersecurity for remote workers, the Coronavirus has shed light on many cybersecurity weaknesses in the home workspace. Many companies have been steadily improving their in-office cybersecurity, few businesses were prepared for the threats of the Coronavirus pandemic.
How Coronavirus Is Affecting Cybersecurity
Before the Coronavirus pandemic, many workers simply commuted to the office to do their work, and often used devices and software provided by their company.
All (or most) data transfers, communications, and digital interactions took place over secure networks. However, everything changed when the workplace moved away from the office.
Now, many businesses are scrambling to develop new cybersecurity protocols for home offices. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to ensure that remote workers are following every security protocol to the letter. For example, rather than working on a company-provided device, some workers might be forced to work from their personal computer, tablet, or mobile device. This opens the door for various security threats, especially if these devices remain unprotected.
Additionally, most home networks are not set up to withstand malicious intruders. Many people forego the protections needed to keep out these hackers. Working from home only increases the risk of exposing sensitive data over unsecured networks. Rather than having all of a company’s data protected on one secure network, a company’s data transfers are now taking place in dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of home networks. As a result, the risk for large-scale data breaches has never been higher.
How to Strengthen Cybersecurity in a Home Office
If you’re working from home or employ remote workers for your business, you should be concerned about cybersecurity. Hackers or malicious viruses have the potential to tear down a business from the inside. A data breach could expose information for you or the company for which you work, potentially revealing sensitive data like passwords, social security numbers, bank accounts, client data, and more.
So, what can you do to strengthen cybersecurity in your home office? While much of the responsibility lies with your company, you should not hesitate to take matters into your own hands if you feel that cybersecurity protocols are lacking. Fortunately, there are several ways that you can quickly and easily strengthen cybersecurity for your home office:
Get a VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a great way to conceal data from digital intruders, especially when working from home. Whenever you connect to the Internet, the data is transmitted through your Internet Service Provider. Without a VPN, everything you do on the Internet could be exposed if your device gets a virus or a hacker gains access to your network.
Alternatively, a VPN encrypts data in your network by rerouting your connection through an anonymous server. What does this mean for your cybersecurity? It means that your identity, location, and general computer traffic are encrypted and hidden from prying eyes.
Though VPNs are not free, you can get one for less than $10 per month. Many companies already use VPNs, so if you’d prefer not to spend your own money, ask if your business would be willing to invest in a VPN for remote workers.
Secure Your Devices
Working from home increases the risk of devices falling into the wrong hands. Nobody wants to lose a computer or a mobile device. However, it makes the situation even worse if you lose sensitive data with it. That’s why you should keep your devices well protected.
First and foremost, you should use passwords that are not easy to guess. You should have a different password for every device, and you should change these passwords on a regular basis. Though it might be tempting, it’s not recommended to write down your passwords. This could allow someone to steal your device and have instant access to sensitive data. Finally, activating two-factor authentication can prevent intruders from accessing your devices even when they know your password.
Use a Firewall
A firewall protects and monitors traffic on your network. It is one of the easiest ways to protect your network and track any threats. Most businesses already use firewalls on their networks, so if you plan to work from home, a firewall is a must.
Thankfully, there are a number of ways to implement firewalls on your home office network. You can install a firewall in your hardware or software. Additionally, many reliable firewalls are very cheap or completely free, making a firewall one of the most affordable ways to protect your home network.
Coronavirus is affecting millions of workers and businesses around the world. If remote work becomes the “new normal” going forward, poor cybersecurity will simply not be an option. However, using the tips outlined above, anyone working from home can boost their cybersecurity and avoid a data breach.
Gal Greene is a PR and SEO strategist, and a tech and finance blogger in her spare time. Gal studied Communication at The Open University with an emphasis on journalism. Reach out to Gal via her twitter @GalGreene