Are your employees still working from home?
Has your company taken measures to increase your security yet?
Since March 2020, many companies transitioned to work from home – heightening the challenge of keeping data secure. With work from home becoming so popular, the security of working from a shared secured network has disappeared – increasing your risk for a remote work hack.
We want to help you keep your data as safe as possible for the sake of both your company and employees’ well-being. Read below to learn about ten steps your employees can take to protect against hacks.
10 Steps Your Work From Home Employees Can Take To Protect Against Hacks
Financial crimes, vandalism, hacktivism, and espionage are a small number of hacker motivations. Not being in the office means everyone is on their personal Internet connections. Your employees and your company are at risk of being compromised without the physical office’s centralized protections. Prevent your business, financials, and livelihood from being taken advantage of by hackers.
1. Keep Your Household Off Your Work Devices
Keeping family members off your work devices can be challenging. We’ve been there. Your daughter wants to watch Netflix or your husband just needs to place one Amazon order. Seems innocent enough. But this is the type of behavior that can lead to a security breach. Not only because these one-offs eventually happen more often. But because with each access comes a crucial risk to your entire company’s online security.
Not sharing your work devices is the least technical way to protect your data. If you don’t feel confident in your tech skills, this may be the easiest way to keep your information safe.
Companies are at higher risk of their security being compromised when employees are working from home. Employees hold the responsibility of maintaining a secure home network and keeping devices secure from housemates.
Maintaining network security can be complicated. The more people using a computer, the easier it can be compromised. Hackers have more routes of access to a device when it has multiple users. Any innocent-seeming instant message, email, or website could download a virus or spyware to your computer. And there’s a chance you might not even be aware of it.
2. Don’t Share Your Wi-Fi
Does your neighbor ask for your Wi-Fi password? This might be hard to swallow, but being neighborly does not constitute allowing your neighbor access to your Internet. No matter how much you trust or love someone, you cannot control their online activities. Sharing your Wi-Fi password is just as dangerous as allowing another person to use your computer.
It is essential to remind your employees that they are responsible for maintaining the integrity of your company’s security protocols on their devices.
Make sure to change the password if you’ve shared it.
Or have a temporary password created for guests.
3. Install Antivirus, Anti-Spyware, and Firewall Software
These lines of defense can be valuable to protecting yourself, employees, and business against hacks. But they must be regularly updated. If not, they cannot do their job to protect your information.
Firewalls are computers’ first line of defense. All computers have a built-in firewall on their operating system. This is why you should make sure your operating system is regularly updated and current. There are also external firewalls that can further protect your computer from hacks.
Antivirus software protects your computer against viruses that could damage or compromise your operating system. New viruses appear every day. Antivirus software can detect these threats in real-time.
Spyware is used to monitor Internet usage and collect data. The data could be used for a variety of purposes – steal your banking information, create fake accounts in your name, data mining, and more.
4. Use Complex Passwords
The strength of your passwords is the most critical aspect of maintaining your online security. Basically, the stronger your password, the more difficult it is for a hacker to access your computer.
Hackers have a scary amount of tools to easily and quickly break short and easy passwords. It is best practice to create passwords that are at least 8 characters long and contain a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Here’s an example of what that could look like: Br00k51t53rv!(35.
Another important rule is to keep your personal information out of the passwords – which means you shouldn’t use birthdays, family names, addresses, or any other information that can be connected to you.
5. Install Updates
Those system updates notifications can undoubtedly get annoying. But they are essential to ensuring your current operating system is still being supported with security updates.
When you purchase and install antivirus and anti-spyware software, you want to get the most out of your investment. If you are not running regular updates, you’ll have wasted money on unused software, and your data is no longer secure. Keep your data protected by running regular virus scans. You can even schedule these scans to take place every night, once a week, or however often you prefer.
6. Protect Yourself Against Phishers
Please refrain from opening suspicious emails and clicking on suspicious or unwarranted links. Hackers use several methods to phish for your information. One way they go about this is by email from what appears to be a legitimate website or email address. For example, a phisher may use a fake Chase Bank email address that looks legitimate – @chȧse.com.
If you aren’t careful and click on a link within one of these phishing emails, they will likely redirect you to log in to a website that looks exactly like Chase Bank’s website. When you log in through this fraudulent website, you’ve actually sent the hackers your username and password.
They now have access to your bank account, accounts that are linked to the bank account, and every other site that you’ve used the same login and password.
Keep in mind that most banks and reputable institutions will never email you asking for this information. Never click a link from inside an email. Instead, open a new webpage and login how you regularly would.
7. Connect Via VPN To Protect Your DNS
The Domain Name System (DNS) translates your domain names to IP addresses. This eliminates the need for users to memorize long and complicated alphanumeric sequences. Although necessary to keep online activities moving, your DNS contains its own risks.
To protect proprietary data, company’s will often have additional private DNS servers accessible only to authorized users. Unless an employee needs access to this information to complete their work, there is no reason they should have access.
If a hacker gains access to your DNS server, they could install malware, redirect your searches to malicious sites, rewrite your security settings, and more. Because you never know when hackers are lurking in wait for their next victim, you should take preemptive measures to minimize risk.
Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a step you can take to add more security levels to your online presence.
VPN works by creating an encrypted tunnel between the user’s device and server. All Internet traffic from your device is encrypted. Then it is also hidden from your DNS, Internet Service Provider (ISP), and other third parties.
If someone does gain access to your system, they would only see that you are connected to a VPN server. You and your data become disguised behind a cloak of invisibility when using a VPN.
8. Only Use Secure Networks
It is a good idea to purge your list of connected networks and disable the auto connect feature. Avoid public Wi-Fi connections like coffee shops and restaurants. Hackers can sniff traffic and set up spoof pages to intercept your login credentials and your data.
Have you heard of a Wi-Fi pineapple?
A hacker sets up a malicious Wi-Fi “pineapple” that acts as a middleman for the hacker between you and the actual Wi-Fi. The “pineapple” will kick all users from the network, then broadcast the same Service Set Identifier (SSID). Since the SSID is saved in your computer’s list of trusted networks, you log in and carry on.
While you think you might be connecting to a legitimate network, your data is now being intercepted. These tools are inexpensive. And in the wrong hands, they can cause a severe breach of privacy.
9. End-to-End Encryption
Enabling encryption on your devices adds an additional layer of security. End-to-end encryption is a secure line of communication that blocks third-party users from accessing data in transit.
Data is encrypted then converted into a secret code that hides your information. Encryption algorithms are formulas used to encode and decode data.
Imagine when you are communicating through messaging apps and emails. Whether the information is sensitive or not, you probably don’t want it being viewed by random hackers on the inner web.
With end-to-end encryption, the data can only be decrypted by a key. This key is held only by the sender and recipient, rendering your data even more secure.
10. Cover Your Webcams When Not In Use
Unless you’re using the webcam at the moment, cover it. This is scary, but the reality is that way sometimes. If your webcams are not covered, you could be being watched.
There are specialty stickers that easily allow access to your webcam when needed. And there won’t be any residue left on the camera lens because the adhesive attaches around the lens, not directly to the lens.
Bandaids are also an option while you’re waiting for a shipment of webcam stickers to arrive. This is recommended over any old sticker because bandaids can be placed with the cotton over the lens, avoiding residue from sticking to your webcam lens.
Let’s Get Your Data Protected
Are you confident in your company’s protection against hackers while you continue to work from home?
The stakes are high.
Your business, your personal life, and those of your employees are at risk of being compromised.
Make sure your data is not vulnerable by contacting an IT specialist today. Brooks IT Services is the only IT service provider in Houston that makes it a priority to help business owners stay on budget and minimize unnecessary downtime with our team’s commitment to responsiveness, reliability, detail-oriented coordination, and project management.