How can I protect myself from cyberattacks while working from home?

With millions of people around the world following a strict lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become the new normal for many of us. However, it’s unlikely that your home network and devices are protected by the corporate software that scans every email you receive and file you download. Furthermore, you are far more likely to get easily distracted and click on a link or email which in normal circumstances would look suspicious.

While cybersecurity experts have noticed a spike in coronavirus-related phishing and social engineering attacks which are designed to trick you into revealing your usernames and passwords using psychological manipulation, the good news is that there are simple steps that you can take to limit the risk.

Secure your home Internet connection

Working from home would most likely require you to use your home Wi-Fi network, so you need to make sure that it’s protected with a strong password. If you haven’t changed the default password on the router, you need to do this immediately. Just follow this useful guide we’ve created that will help you create a robust password. Once you have your password set up, you need to ensure you’ve not shared it with anyone else outside of your household.

You should also make sure that your connection is encrypted to keep information safe. If your Wi-Fi asks anyone trying to connect for a password, this means it’s encrypted. For maximum protection, choose WPA2-AES when selecting the security settings on your Wi-Fi router. This makes sure everything you send is encrypted, and is more difficult to hack.

Nowadays many of us own Internet of Things devices such as smart speakers, smart thermostats, smart lights, etc., which are connected to our home Wi-Fi network. But these could make you more susceptible to a cyberattack unless you create a strong password for each of these too.

If for any reason you think that your home Internet network has been hacked, you can check this by following a few simple steps.

Only use work devices

Where possible, only use IT equipment provided by your employer when working from home as often there’s a range of software installed in the background that keeps you secure. If a security incident took place on your personal device, the organisation’s and your personal files may not be fully protected. In case you’re not able to use IT equipment, you can install consumer antivirus programmes on your computer that scan for malicious software that can steal information, spy on you or spam your contacts.

Update your software

Because you aren’t in the office your company could have a harder time keeping your software updated automatically. So if you get notifications that your device needs updating, do not ignore these. It usually takes a couple of minutes to update your software – you simply need to restart your device.

When software companies release updates that fix security flaws, they’re essentially giving hackers the nod that there are devices running the older version of the software on the system. That’s why it’s essential to update your software, because by doing so you’re – in essence – changing the locks, and it’ll be a lot harder for hackers to get in.

Set up two-factor authentication

Make sure you have two-factor authentication set up on your device. This is important because if a hacker gets access to your username and password, if you have two-factor authentication those credentials would be useless for them. If they’re not able to go through the second step required for authentication, then hackers would be left empty-handed. Although it could delay the speed of your login, two-factor authentication is seen as one of the most effective ways to stop hackers, so we highly recommend using it!

Stay vigilant

The increase in digital communications in the past few weeks means that sometimes a malicious email could sneak into your corporate account. So you should read your inbox carefully and be mindful of what you respond to. If the sender demands an immediate payment of an invoice or requests a document to be sent over to them quickly, double check that they are who they claim to be before taking any action.

You should also be particularly suspicious of e-mails from unknown senders that prompt you to click on a link. Often by clicking on the link you install a virus or a spyware on your device, so make sure you check the link before you click on it.

Maintaining a high level of cybersecurity is essential not just during unusual times like these, but at all times. By following these five pieces of advice you will be able to stay safe from cyberattacks.

Hope you found this post useful and if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments section below. In case you’re looking for more information on the topic, here are some quick links for you: