Protecting Your Work-From-Home Devices and Home Networks from Cyber Threats

As COVID-19 continues to change our world, the threat from the virus extends far beyond the potentially deadly health impacts. As the workforce shifted to a work-from-home model, many businesses were not prepared. Lack of WFH policies, VPN connections, and a lax “bring your own device” approach have made businesses and their employees prey to malware, phishing, and numerous other virtual threats.

The good news is that there are steps that companies and workers can take to secure their information. The following suggestions can help keep your employees, their devices and both business and personal data secure while working from home.

Know Your Enemy

There are virtually as many cybersecurity threats as there are careless, devious, or malicious people in the world. While many are perpetrated with malicious intent, not all breaches are purposeful. The first line of defense is awareness of the many types of threats.

Some common cyber risks include, but are far from limited to:

  • Ransomware – This malware encrypts your data so that you can no longer use it until you pay the cybercriminals holding it for ransom.
  • Phishing – Phishing is typically done with an official-looking email posing as a legitimate business to entice you to give your login credentials or other sensitive information.
  • Data leakage – The devices that can contain sensitive business data now extend to mobile computing, like unlocked cell phones, tablets and storage devices without adequate safeguards for protecting information.
  • Hacking – Intrusion through firewalls, bank accounts or malicious code are just a few ways cybercriminals can gain entry to your network.
  • Insider threat – Writing down passwords, leaving computers unlocked and unattended, and not securing physical or digital documents are all ways that insiders can unwittingly aid and abet cybercrime.

Know Your Perimeter and Devices

Smart devices are everywhere in homes now, including voice-controlled personal assistants, appliances, televisions, thermostats and nursery monitors, to name a few. While it seems like a convenience for you, the more smart devices you have, the higher your risk of intrusion. Failing to secure your network and devices is like leaving your doors and windows open with your wallet laying by the door.

There are different ways to scan your home network and view all the devices that are accessing it. You can use your router’s web interface to see which devices are connected. If you see any that you don’t recognize, change your router’s password and voila, no more unauthorized access. Alternatively, if your router doesn’t have an online interface, there are several free network scanning tools you can use to identify the connections on your network.

Install Antivirus on Everything

You can never be too careful when protecting information. While you may be familiar with antivirus software on your computer, you may not realize that now it must extend to other internet-enabled devices. PCMag lists Kaspersky, Avast, AVG, and Bitdefender, among others, on its list of The Best Free Antivirus Protection for 2020.

There are also many good software-as-a-service antivirus solutions. Norton and McAfee are two of the more well-known antivirus software providers, but there are many more that may be better suited for your needs or budget. Using subscription SAAS means that software updates and virus definitions are applied automatically, keeping you safe with the most up-to-date defense.

Tune Your Wireless Access Points for Performance and Privacy

When setting up your wireless network, you may be tempted to accept the default settings for everything. However, using the same default channels that all your neighbors are using means competition for bandwidth and slower internet speed. Using the default password means you’ve just given a cybercriminal the keys to your home. Pick a different password and channel, and you’ll have secure data transmission at higher speed with less interference.

Protect Your Privacy

There are many strategies you can adopt to protect your privacy online. Some of the top tactics include:

  • Use password management software or manually change all passwords often
  • Delete unknown emails without opening and never respond to emails requesting sensitive data, even from seemingly legitimate businesses
  • Secure your network, eliminating default setting on routers
  • Keep all software updated frequently, particularly antivirus and security software
  • Use a VPN connection
  • Don’t use work devices for personal activities
  • Limit or eliminate ad tracking on your devices
  • Use private search engines

Share Securely

An often overlooked part of home security is the family planning for when you or a loved one needs someone else to access and manage your accounts. One of the safest ways to accomplish this is by using a secure password vault with a sharing option. Dashlane, LastPass and RoboForm, or Keychain and iPassword for Apple devices are all examples of password vaults. Another advantage of using this type of application is that it sends encrypted versions of your passwords to sites, reducing the risk of hijacked passwords.

How is your organization looking at its overall cybersecurity? Bold Group provides a variety of Security Intelligence services that can help protect you against cybersecurity threats. We have over 40 years of experience in alarm monitoring, financial management, and security intelligence. To find out more about security solutions, visit our website.

Author Bill Brousseau is the Director of Technology for Bold Group – stages