In this COVID-19 crisis, employees of many companies don’t have much choice but to work from home (WFH) – a situation that none of them had seen coming.
For once, companies are concerned about how to manage end-point security on their employees’ systems because a WFH scenario can cause millions in losses to a small business just due to the mistake of a single employee.
Consider a scenario where an employee accesses the company network through an ‘infected’ system. It will be the doom of that company, especially if its transaction details are also accessible through the same system.
Security experts have called this situation the ‘remote working security dilemma,’ and there aren’t many actions available to fix it, except a few that we will be discussing in this blog.
Learning to Stay Cyber-Secure in COVID Pandemic
Let’s understand how hackers attempt to infiltrate a system, how they steal information from the main hub, and how remote employees can stay secure while working on their projects through their own systems.
1. Using a Virtual Network
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) help companies keep their data secure in a virtual environment. Often these VPNs have firewalls available that stop infected scripts from executing or infecting files from getting shared from one system to the other.
Clifford Neuman, Cyber Security Head at USC, encourages companies to use some kind of VPN service to improve the security of their data.
2. Using Company Systems Only
Most companies have provided their staff with laptops so that they can work from their homes effectively. Although in an environment where employees have to work from home, they may use their home systems, which is understandable.
But, in this case, if a malicious script exists on the home system, it can easily jump to the main data hub through the unsecured connection. Company systems guarantee that infected material can’t pass to the central system through end-point security, regular virus and malware scans, and strict firewall in place.
3. Storing Data in Secure Folders
Similarly, most employees working from home are storing data either on their systems or on external drives. Often these external drives are also used for regular file sharing. It means that they can get infected by getting plugged into different systems.
Now, when the employees copy their data to the central servers directly (without scanning for viruses), the malicious data also gets copied to the central server and infects it. There are just so many employees making one of these mistakes that even the IT departments can’t keep track of.
However, most companies have created strict protocols for such situations, and one of these protocols is to store data only in secure folders.
4. Skipping Suspicious Files & Links
Before downloading any file you receive in your email, or before opening any link sent to you from an unknown source, make sure to ask your IT administrator. This will help you avoid any unforeseen circumstances that can compromise the security of your company.
Cyber attacks, especially phishing attacks, are on the rise in the COVID pandemic. Hackers try to act as IT workers or teams of various organizations and want you to click on a link in an email. When you do that, they automatically download a file on your system that starts to log key presses and sends them to hackers.
Since key loggers don’t require a lot of data to run, you won’t notice if some extra bytes start showing up in your computer’s task manager.
Security experts also suggest that if your computer gets compromised, notify the IT team at your earliest and stop connectivity to the central system.
5. Managing Endpoint Security
Almost every anti-virus service now offers end-point security for companies. This end-point security software can be installed on employee’s devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablet systems.
The purpose of deploying end-point security software is to ensure that every file passed from the employee’s system to the central system is securely vetted for malicious code and viruses.
IT companies can even create their own end-point security protocols to streamline the processes further. This would include limiting the installation of new software or adding a new firewall in place.
Also, sometimes these security measures can look too obtrusive to the employees, but they are for their own security.
6. Educate the Employee
This is one part where most companies are bad at. Most employees are unaware of the shady tactics cybercriminals use to get into a company’s system.
Employees don’t know how to avoid social engineering scams, how to differentiate from a real vs. a fake corporate email address, and how to make sure business email data is never mixed up with personal email data.
IT teams should conduct an online session with all employees in which they should tell them about the new ways of cyber attacks and how to detect them. Also, they need to be taught how to make their remote connection secure.
For example, if an employee is using Windows 10 remote desktop, he/she should know about the encryption that can make the remote connection secure.
Employees who are aware of cyber attacks are much more likely to avoid such scenarios in comparison with employees who are unaware of the new methods of cyberattacks.
7. Establish Device Compromise Protocols
We discussed this earlier in the blog. Security protocols are the lifeblood of any organization. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) for when data of a company is compromised often doesn’t exist because no one ever thought they were necessary.
But these unforeseen situations can arise, and IT companies must know what actions to take to recover compromised data.
Security Infringement SOPs of some kind will be of great help in such a situation. It will ensure that IT staff follows a certain set of SOPs, while company employees follow another set of SOPs designed for them.
8. Taking Care of Resources
Many companies, even today, are reluctant to add end-point security software to central servers, saying that such protocols will increase the cost of doing business for the company.
Although there can be rare cases where end-point applications genuinely don’t fit the case, by and large, these suites are designed to help remote workers stay connected securely to the main system. So, providing such resources to the IT teams at the earliest is a must for every company.
If these cybersecurity tips are followed, companies and their remote work teams can rest assured that their data will be safe and secure.
That’s everything you need to know about how to stay secure in cyberspace when working from home. If you think we have missed any point, please tell us about it by commenting below.
Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness, and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia