With COVID-19 spreading rapidly across the globe, many companies have directed their employees to work from home. Although this is a necessary step to slow transmission of the virus, it’s one that does create potential security vulnerabilities that go along with remote work.
Defending against security threats in this environment requires a comprehensive approach. Businesses should of course heed guidance from governmental agencies, but full protection from cyber threats is a team effort.
With that in mind, here are four ways remote employees can do their part to defend against cyber threats.
Be Careful When Opening Emails
Unfortunately, cybercriminals are taking full advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, and email is one of their preferred attack channels. There’s been a flood of coronavirus-themed attacks over the past days, some of which promise information on cures – only to lure the recipient into opening an infected site or attachment
These phishing emails are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
“Continued global susceptibility to phishing will probably make this approach a persistent and attractive technique for cyber criminals,” warned the UK’s cybersecurity government agency.
So, make sure you follow your company’s email protocols, and if you’re not totally confident of the sender’s identity, it’s always wise to err on the side of caution.
Stay Secure on the Go
Although some countries have implemented near-complete lockdowns, others do still allow people some ability to travel. If you do opt for a change of scenery during the workday, it’s wise to take some basic precautions to limit your exposure.
- Don’t connect to public Wi-Fi networks
- Don’t leave devices unattended
- Don’t charge your device in a public charging station
- If possible, use a screen protector; otherwise, do your best to work in a secluded area
Keep Your Devices to Yourself
With K-12 schools and colleges closed across much of the country, many remote employees will be working alongside spouses and children. Despite the temptation to do otherwise (especially if not every family member has their own device), it’s important to avoid sharing. A seemingly innocent gesture (like letting your child watch Netflix on your work computer) could risk confidential company information.
Donate with Care
It’s been wonderful to see so many people and businesses come together to support those in need during the coronavirus epidemic. Unfortunately, bad actors have sought to take advantage of this generosity with a variety of scams, including fake crowdfunding pages and sham charities.
The FTC recommends individuals avoid donating via cash, gift card, or money wire, and that you always double check to make sure the organization/page soliciting contributions is legitimate. Otherwise, you’ll not only risk losing money, but you also might expose sensitive information. (This is also a reason why it’s best to conduct personal business on your personal device, not your work device.)