How to Stay Cyber Safe When Remote Working in 2020

Work remains a key part of everyone’s life. People go to work daily, to make a living, and contribute to projects that can positively impact others. However, there are many problems that come with “going to work.” Work often takes a lot of time, tilting the work-life balance. Hence, the concept of working remotely is one welcomed by many. It allows them to live life to the fullest, and work from anywhere in the world.

There are different problems that come with working remotely. But the one of concern in this article is the issue with cybersecurity. When working remotely, there are many possible threats, especially in an age where data is gold and breaches can be very costly. This is why it is important to take note of the tips in this article, and put them to use; staying cyber safe while working remotely for the rest of the year. 

These are some threats to cyber safety when working remotely:

  • Public Wi-Fi
  • Torrents
  • Malware
  • Weak Passwords
  • Phishing

Public Wi-Fi

When working remotely, it is easy to lose guard and become less concerned about security. Since remote work comes with the advantage of working anywhere, it is common to find people working at coffee shops, and other public stations. These places often have free Wi-Fi, and it can be tempting to connect.

wifi connection colored

Using such Wi-Fi connections comes with a security risk, as public Wi-Fi are not secure and can be attacked. Aside from that, malicious individuals can create Wi-Fis with names similar to that of the public ones, tricking people into connecting to them.

There are different solutions to this problem, and all solutions should be worked on. Here are some of them:

  • Only Connect to Trusted Wi-Fi Connections
  • Use Co-Working Spaces

Only Connect to Trusted Wi-Fi Connections

It is very important to only make use of trusted Wi-Fi connections, whether you are working on data-sensitive gigs or not. By connecting to untrusted sources of internet, you are making yourself vulnerable to attackers and risk providing confidential data to them on a platter of gold.

Use Co-Working Spaces

It may be hard to get cheap, trusted internet access at home. One solution is to pay for co-working spaces. Co-working spaces will provide constant access to the internet and other facilities that make it easy to work productively. You should ensure that the co-working space of your choice is security conscious, so as to stay cyber safe when using all of their offerings.

Torrents

There are a lot of torrent sites on the internet. On these sites, you can find almost any kind of public file you desire, and some private ones too. While not working, it is common to find people downloading from torrent sites. This habit often eats into working time, so downloads continue when working.

Files downloaded from torrent sites cannot be trusted, as they can be susceptible to malware. Torrent sites also expose the IP addresses of their users, making them unsafe to use. Every remote worker who often downloads torrent should be wary of this insecurity.

Here are some solutions to this problem:

  • Stay Away from Torrent Sites
  • Use VPN Always

Stay Away from Torrent Sites

This solution looks obvious, sadly very few people abide by it. By staying away from torrent sites and all untrusted download sites, the chances of being infected with malware largely reduces.

Use VPN Always

Remote workers should try to use premium VPN services always, even after staying away from torrent sites. VPN enhances security and also brings online anonymity into the picture. Nobody can say for sure what sites are trying to know your IP address, so it is best to always stay anonymous even on non-torrent sites.

Malware

Malware is a problem everywhere. Nobody knows for sure when a malware attack is on the cards. They only show when the attack is fully on the way and it is too late. In recent times, ransomware has hit many computers especially Windows users, and there are many more kinds of malware making life hard for remote workers.

The issue with malware is not just the fact that it can make your computer unusable, it can also send data to the owner. This can lead to a huge data breach, especially if you have critical company and user data on the computer during an attack.

Here are some solutions to this problem:

  • Install OS Updates Always
  • Encrypt Vital Data
  • Store Data on the Cloud
  • Use an Antivirus

Install OS Updates Always

Regardless of the operating system you use, it is important to always install the updates as they come. This can be stressful, especially when the updates become very frequent. However, these updates are to benefit the users. They may not come with shiny new features, but they are usually patches to security loopholes in the operating system.

Encrypt Vital Data

In the case where a malware attack is successful, and data is stolen, the only saving grace to prevent a data breach will come from encryption. By encrypting critical data always, you are guaranteed that no other person will be able to access data.

Store Data on the Cloud

Your computer shouldn’t be your backup location. What happens if it crashes? What happens if you get locked out of it? It is important to always have your data in its encrypted state, backed up on the cloud. This way, you can access your data at all times, and from anywhere in the world with internet access.

Use an Antivirus

If you install updates frequently, then you most likely won’t need to use antivirus software. However, it can also be a security measure to put in place; there is nothing like “being too secure.” Most operating systems come with powerful malware detection features, which is another reason why the updates are very crucial to staying safe.

Weak Passwords

Every remote worker has accounts on many web platforms. These accounts can be for social media, movie streaming sites, or even fintech applications. The results of being hacked can be quite devastating depending on how crucial the application is.

One wouldn’t expect someone working remotely to use extremely simple passwords such as “admin”, “1234”, or even their year of birth. But it is common to find accounts with passwords having only lowercase letters. When you see how long it could take to crack your password, it becomes clear why complex passwords are the most secure.

Here are some solutions to avoiding weak passwords:

  • Use a Password Management Application
  • Update Passwords Regularly
  • Activate Two-Factor Authentication

Use a Password Management Application

There are millions of web applications on the internet, each requiring their own password. It can be tempting to use one password for many sites, but this is a security risk. If one account gets compromised, it creates a domino effect on the other accounts. Keeping track of all these passwords can be hard, but it is possible when you make use of an application like Password Boss. Password Boss provides browser plugins, so you can easily access the login details for different web applications when you need them. Password Boss also has a feature for generating passwords, so you don’t stress when creating new passwords.

Update Passwords Regularly

As a remote worker, you shouldn’t set a password and forget about it. It is important that you update passwords as frequently as you can. This way, in the unlikely possibility that someone lays their hands on your password, you can lock them out. Once again, by using password management applications, it is easy to change passwords for your web accounts.

Activate Two-Factor Authentication

Passwords shouldn’t be the only approach you use to keep your web accounts safe. Many web applications have two-factor authentication features, and you should take advantage of such. Two-Factor Authentication also known as 2FA ensures that you present two or more evidence of account ownership. 2FA gets triggered when you try accessing an account from an unknown device or browser.

Phishing

Phishing remains a serious internet problem, despite all the technology advancements. There are many scraping tools out there, looking for email addresses, either for genuine or malicious purposes. It is therefore important to be on the lookout for strange-looking emails.

You can’t prevent phishing emails from coming in, but you can take security measures to ensure that they don’t cause any damage. Some of these measures include:

  • Do Not Click on Untrusted Email Links or Attachments
  • Be Careful About Strange Looking Email Addresses

Do Not Click on Untrusted Email Links or Attachments

Phishing emails often come with untrusted links or attachments. The links could lead you down a rabbit hole of falling victim for the tricks of malicious people. The attachments, on the other hand, can have malware. Therefore, you shouldn’t click on any of these unless you are very sure of their source.

Be Careful About Strange Looking Email Addresses

Not all phishing emails come with links or attachments, some require you to divulge private information such as passwords and card details. You should be extra careful about these, and check the email addresses to be sure they aren’t trying to copy an original email address to scam you.

Conclusion

When companies allow you to work remotely, they are trusting you to: 

  • work productively from anywhere
  • keep data secure at all times
  • stay safe despite the wildness on the internet 

It is therefore important for every remote worker to put in place security measures to stay safe online. Some of the measures have been discussed in this article, but it shouldn’t end at this discussion, you should take action and stay safe.