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5 cybersecurity practices that will keep remote workers safe

SOURCE: CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP
Remote working has created a more vulnerable environment affecting the cybersecurity defenses of many organisations.


By U2B Staff 

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Remote work has become a necessity for modern organisations. This is an abrupt shift triggered by the impacts of COVID-19. This transition forced organisations, big and small, to scramble to support their workforce, often neglecting to implement sound cybersecurity measures. 

When employees operate from the office, they execute their tasks behind layers of preventive security controls. However, once computers leave the perimeter, new risks arise.

Cybercriminals all over the world see the shift to remote work as an opportunity for attack. They are aware of the fact that millions of remote workers are under-equipped with improperly secured connections and technologies. 

Based on HLB’s Cybersecurity Report, global businesses have seen cyber attacks rise with 65% of organisations noting they have either been breached or exposed to an attack. “Our experts’ overwhelming opinion is that phishing attacks are increasing, and highlight that social engineering is also rising.”

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With 90% of successful cyber attacks coming down to human error, there is a lot remote workers can do to protect themselves and their organisation. Here’s what you can do:

Ensure digital security 

Rule #1? Avoid public Wi-Fi. Use personal hotspots as an alternative. Public Wi-Fi introduces significant security risks and should be avoided if possible.

If you need to access the internet from a public Wi-Fi location, you have two essential problems to solve. Other people have access to these networks and, without a firewall in between, cybercriminals can gain access to your computer from across the room. 

Using a hot spot eliminates the problem of getting hacked by people on the same public Wi-Fi, although your web traffic will be unencrypted between the hotspot and its destination,

When at home, there is also a right way to set up a Wi-Fi network to protect your device from vulnerabilities. Ensuring the username and password are changed from the default ones is important, including the administrator details which prevents criminals from accessing the network settings.

Manage your passwords wisely

Use password managers such as LastPass, Dashlane, or Sticky Password to keep track of important login information. These tools enable businesses to use unique, secure passwords for every site.

Use anti-virus protection and firewall

Anti-virus protection software has been the most prevalent solution to fight malicious cyberattacks. They can block malware and other malicious viruses from entering your device and compromising your data. Be sure to only use anti-virus software from trusted vendors and only run one tool at a time.

Using a firewall is just as important. A firewall helps screen out hackers, viruses, and other virtually dangerous activities from occurring over the internet. A firewall also determines what traffic is allowed to enter your device. Both Microsoft and Apple devices come with their respective firewalls, aptly named Windows Firewall and Mac Firewall. Your router should also have a firewall built in to prevent attacks on your network.

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Do not delay updates

Programmes and operating systems are updated regularly to prevent cybercriminals from exploiting online vulnerability. Make sure your operating system is running the latest version at all times. Protip: Enable automatic updates to make sure your systems stay secure.

Upskill

A simple cybersecurity course will teach you how to protect operating systems, networks, and data. Different modules have different focuses but the overall goal remains the same: To help individuals develop the skills needed to prevent cyberattacks. An added bonus? Some extra skills to add to your toolkit. 

IBM offers the Introduction to Cybersecurity Tools & Cyber Attacks course for free on Coursera. In just 20 hours, this beginner-level course gives participants the background needed to understand basic cybersecurity measures. 

Alternatively, Google offers the IT Security: Defense against the digital dark arts programme for free, also via Coursera. In just 29 hours, enrollees learn the basics of IT security concepts, tools, and best practices.