The current COVID 19 pandemic has presented a unique challenge to employees and employers all around the world. In the wake of the pandemic, millions of employees have been sent home to work remotely.

Most of these employees are used to having large IT departments to assist them whenever they need help, now these same employees are accessing the organizations network with little to no cyber security awareness training.

Hackers have taken note of this opportunity and are wreaking havoc on those who work from home; in this article we shall discuss some of the ways that you can increase your cyber security while working from the comfort of favorite coffee stained couch.

WI FI

The first thing that you should do when you first get home with your “home” workstation is to reboot the Wi-Fi router. Confirm that the router has the latest updated software and that it is patched, change the password from the default factory setting to a stronger “pass phrase” such as l3t.M3_3nT@ (let me enta).

strong vs weak passwords

DO REMEMBER to create two networks, a “work” network and “guest” network. NEVER give anyone the password to the “work” network and only allow guests and family to use the “guest” network.

After this is done you can then change the SSID to one that is untraceable. SSIDs like MikehomeNetwork and homenetwork1 can be easily traced to people who are working from home. Make certain you use strong encryption like WPA2.

To be on the safe side, it is better to have a wired connection than using Wi-Fi. DO NOT use wireless printers or scanners as these present many security risks. When using the internet, try and use a wired connection on your “home” work station to reduce Wi-Fi hacking risks.

DO GET a VPN to connect to your organizations internal network, a VPN will safeguard that the connection between the organizations is safe, secure and encrypted.

Devices

Once you have created a safe network in your work from home environment, it is now time to discover how many devices are on the network. These days the average home as multiple smart devices from coffee makers, lights, Alexa, smart TVs and even fridges.

Doing a network discovery allows you see which devices are on the network. Once the devices are discovered, ensure that they all have strong passphrases and the software they are running is patched and up to date. Just like back at work, always lock your computer while it is not in use.

Other precautions such updating your current firewall and anti-virus must be done. DO NOT download FREE anti-virus software as most of these tend to be malicious and contain viruses. Do get the family a separate computer and NEVER let anyone use your “home” workstation or any work related devices.

Back ups

One only realizes how important backs up are when they have an incident and end up losing all their data. Always back up your work and always make backups of backups. Make sure to keep a strict back up schedule and always keep one physical backup and one in cloud.

You are Your Own Defense

When working from home use your own best judgement, you must be your own defense. Educate yourself and the family on the current wave of phishing tactics and attacks.

If you are the recipient of a work email that requires you to carry out a certain critical task, verify and call back the co-worker who sent the email.

DO NOT give out any critical information on the phone, unless you are sure of the person on who is the other end of the line.

Do designate an area in the home that is strictly for work. This area should be restricted and only you should be allowed to access that area.

Do keep items like family pictures and items that can give away your location away from the view of the camera. Hackers can use this in a social engineering attack against you.

Do keep it digital and refrain from printing documents that contain sensitive information. Keep track of all documents that are printed. Printed documents that are no longer needed should be destroyed using a shredder.

Do keep a strict work time table, try and stay on schedule and be at “work” just like you would before this global pandemic.

DON’T CONSUME ALCOHOL while on the clock, the current lock-down situation has a resulted in a sharp rise of alcohol sales. Most data breaches occur due to misconfigured systems, one can only imagine how much cyber risk an employee poses to their organization work intoxicated.