With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, more and more companies are asking employees to work from home. Staying at your place may protect you from the pandemic, but it opens up endless possibilities for cyber criminals. Unfortunately, in the cyber-world, firewalls do not separate us from viruses and threats.
A Mass Exodus to Work From Home
Last year around 40% of working Americans said they would gladly work from home. Until recently, this was just a nice option to have. But with the novel coronavirus attacking people all over the world, working remotely has become a necessity. Last week, big players such as Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and Google were among the first to send employees home, and many followed suit.
From a cybersecurity point of view, working remotely is a new playground for attackers. If breaking into company networks is challenging, breaking into home Wi-Fi is relatively easy. And with all the world distracted by the pandemic, cyber criminals are rolling up their sleeves and sending out loads of phishing emails that prey on unsuspecting people concerned about COVID-19.
How to protect your Internet connection
Fortunately, you can take steps to prepare! The safest option for all employers is to set up a VPN – virtual private network. It allows authorized users to connect remotely to a company’s internal network. What’s more, it works like an invisible hat – it encrypts your Internet connection and keeps your communication and location private, making it much more difficult for hackers to intercept your data. Are you utilizing your organization’s VPN?
VPNs are most efficient when used over an encrypted connection. If you don’t have such a connection at home or need to work on the go, you should think about how to efficiently secure your internet connection. Here, a helpful hand comes from LTE and 4G connections. They can be used as more trusted mobile hotspots than connecting to public WiFi. (All data sent via LTE and 5G is encrypted, making it much safer than data sent using public Wi-Fi, which can be easily exploited by attackers). The downsides are lower quality of Internet and throttling if you go over certain data thresholds.
A good alternative is a MiFi – a wireless device which allows end users to share a single mobile Internet connection. It can be used to create an ad hoc network of up to ten devices strong and give the same degree of connectivity as your stationary Internet. It allows you to go online wherever you are, without compromising the quality of connection and without using your phone or a public alternative.
Training is key
Like all Internet-based solutions, VPNs over encrypted connections are not 100% safe, but they are very efficient in protecting you from becoming cyber victims. To keep VPNs as secure as possible, they should be regularly updated. It is also crucial that you are aware of cyber threats you can encounter when working remotely. As an employee, it’s up to you to stay present during your security awareness training and report anything that seems suspicious.