Staying Secure Whilst Working Remotely: Tips From An Expert

Remote working has shifted from a nationwide necessity to a new and appreciated way of working in recent months. There are certainly those who prefer the atmosphere of an office space, but it would seem that much of the population is more than happy to continue working from home as long as it remains an option. As we are firmly in the midst of a second wave, it would seem that remote working will remain an option for the foreseeable future – it may even revert to being compulsory for all those who have the ability to do so.

With this in mind, it’s essential for all remote workers to consider the shift in security controls that will have taken place when relocating from the office, to an individual’s home. A wide range of new risks and challenges seek to threaten remote workers and it’s important to have an understanding of how to deal with these potential issues. Samuel Johnson, Director at Mercury IT Solutions, has shared his considerable insight on the matter in the hopes that all remote workers will be able to stay safe and secure.

The Leading Threats

The majority of those currently working from home will do so using their own personal wifi connection – which is hopefully secure. There will be those, however, that will need to utilise an unsecure public wifi network in order to complete their work. This is a prime opportunity for confidential information to be harvested by malicious parties.

Although there’s no doubt that the use of personal devices and networks is certainly preferable when completing essential work tasks – in comparison to their public equivalent – it’s very unlikely that they will utilise systems that are as suitable as those implemented in an office space. Certain tools, such as customized firewalls, automatic online backups and a robust antivirus software, will be built into most business networks. A lack of these features will make any remote worker more susceptible to intrusive malware, dangerous viruses and even data breaches. 

As long as naive or struggling users exist online, there will always be those who attempt to profit off of them through nefarious means. Although the majority of remote workers – who regularly use a computer – will be well-versed in the avoidance of online scams, some may not be. With remote working still prevalent across the nation, the number of work-from-home scams that are reported continues to increase. These malicious campaigns can have serious negative effects on an employees company, or their own livelihood, unless they have a thorough understanding of how to deal with them.

Strong Security System

With the majority of remote workers not blessed with the security infrastructure present in their original place of work, essential measures must be put in place in order to prevent cyber-attacks from happening. It is, of course, far more worthwhile to understand how to prevent these threats from affecting you, rather than needing to deal with an issue once it’s already caused a problem. Every company holds a myriad of valuable, and often private, data, making it vital for these measures to be put in place.

A firewall should function as the first line of defence against any threats that attempt to enter your system. As the name suggests, a firewall acts as a sort of virtual barrier, between your personal device and the endlessly sprawling avenues of the Internet. Not only will it prevent intrusive programmes from finding their way onto your device, but it will also stop your data from leaving it.

It’s important to note, however, that just because a firewall is essential, it is by no means foolproof. There will always be the occasional threat that is able to slip through, and it is here that a quality antivirus software is necessary. Acting as a second line of defence, your antivirus software will detect and block known malware and other malicious files. As a firewall can’t be trusted to keep your device entirely safe, a strong antivirus software should be present in order to detect and remove anything unsavoury that finds its way through.

Whilst many will already have these measures set up, some may still wish to improve on them. An IT support team, at a company like Mercury IT Solutions or bct consulting los angeles, will always be ready to provide some helpful advice. Many businesses, in fact, are choosing to utilise an IT support team whilst their employees work from home in order to ensure every member of the team is able to keep the company’s data safe and secure. This is beneficial as it allows employees to work through the day with no interruptions, with the IT support team identifying and dealing with any threats before the user even knows about them.

Updates and Backups

Software updates can certainly be an annoyance, there’s no doubt about that, but they are incredibly important when it comes to ensuring your cybersecurity is up to date, so to speak. Virtually every piece of software on your device will continually identify new vulnerabilities that need to be fixed, meaning a delayed update could potentially result in these vulnerabilities being taken advantage of before you’re even aware of them. Many updates can be set to run automatically – perhaps at a time where you know you will be away for your device – which can help to ensure they don’t interrupt your essential processes.

A business can lose it’s data in a variety of different ways. Any kind of human error, for example; be it small to disastrous. Sometimes data loss is a result of physical damage caused by some kind of natural disaster, such as a fire or flood. Or, occasionally, it’s down to some kind of nefarious cyber-attack. The latter becomes increasingly likely if working remotely without a top quality level of cybersecurity.

No matter what might cause a potential data breach, it’s essential to consult data breach solicitors and regularly backup your data. You may be targeted by ransomware, for example, that will be capable of wiping your entire system. In this case, a recent backup will provide the reassuring opportunity for you to immediately restore your essential files. It’s essential for your businesses data and hardware to be completely operational in order for you to complete your work effectively, and without a regular backup, you can’t be sure that this will always be the case.

Be Wary of Scams!

The pandemic has seen a surge of cybercriminals attempting (and often succeeding) to profit off of those who are working remotely. Most remote workers have probably already received a selection of phishing emails that aim to steal their personal information, or even gain access to the respective company’s private accounts.

These phishing emails will take advantage of people’s anxieties during this difficult time, or else, prey on those who are less familiar with identifying fraudulent emails, in an effort to succeed. Any email you receive that is in any way out of the ordinary, or requests for the recipient to perform an action that wouldn’t normally be asked of them, is likely to be a phishing attempt. Be sure to  scrutinize everything from the email address and subject line, to the body of the email itself, for any spelling or grammatical errors. Also, unless you completely trust the sender, you should never click on any link within the body of an email. If skeptical, you should check the legitimacy of the email with the perceived sender, or simply delete it.

Whilst it has certainly been necessary for many businesses to abandon their security infrastructure in order to allow their employees to work safely and remotely, this should not detract from the overwhelming importance of cybersecurity. In fact, it is now more important than ever for each individual employee of any company to be knowledgeable on how to identify and prevent any persistent threats.

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