“Change is the law of nature” – says the popular proverb which holds true in every possible aspect of our lives. Ever since the evolution of mankind we have been changing ourselves, our lifestyle, professional paradigms, social networking, etc. When it comes to 2020, change can be considered to be the most relevant word as the year has brought in some of the biggest alterations in the society as a whole. As we pulled ourselves out from the oozing celebratory mode in the starting months, we were soon exposed to one of the biggest health calamities in the history of humankind. Yes, we are talking about the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic which has brought the world to a standstill. The disease marked its first presence in Wuhan, China and within a few weeks proliferated into all the major parts of the globe taking death tolls to an alarming figure. With no potential remedial solution or medicinal cure, governments from around the world resorted to social distancing to safeguard the citizens from the aggravating situation.
In no time the crisis expanded to such an appalling state that people were forced to stay locked in their homes for an indefinite period of time as part of complete lockdown impositions by the authorities. Industries, no matter how big or small, social gathering spots like restaurants and malls, along with transportation, tourism, educational institutions, etc. were shut down to discourage people gathering which can directly result in spreading the pandemic. This induced a new working regime “Work of Home.”
Firms allowed their employees to manage their day-to-day work, attend meetings, complete projects, handle clients, or support other functions in an online way using the Internet while being at their homes. Though, Work from Home is not a novel concept and has a widespread acceptance but its implementation scale during corona times was surely a big bet to play for the institutions. The outcome of this concept was unpredictable as no entity had a well-designed preset plan for this. Due to these uncertainties, cybersecurity became a challenge for business entities as well as the employees as they were more prone to attacks from outsiders during this phase than any other situation. Cybercrimes have surfaced in large volumes over the past years as we moved towards technological advancements. An array of reports indicate that the world has witnessed a growing number of cyber crimes including identity theft, online money frauds, data breaches, fund transfers, and many others.
The mechanism of work-from-home is becoming the new normal amid the COVID-19 crisis and experts suggest that it is likely to become more prevalent in the near future as well. Working remotely has its own class of benefits and limitations. Where on one hand it allows employees to work at their convenience, it exposes organization’s data to malicious intruders. The pandemic era has been eye-opener for many users who were not aware of cyber risks or those who never acknowledged themselves to be the targets of threats.
A list of some potential solutions to safeguard your data and information from cyber threats are mentioned below. Have a look:
1. Password Protection
In Layman’s language, keeping a strong password for your crucial information is the easiest remedy. While working from home, it becomes utmost important for the employees to have a strong password for their desktops to avoid access to anyone but them. A password should be strong and unpredictable so that even if you lose your asset, it still remains a hard nut for the attackers to decode. The best way to password-protect your data is to take the services of a password manager which helps to safeguard the information in the best possible way. The business entities should also include a single sign-on service for their employees to restrain access to outsiders.
2. Remedial Steps
In case, your data gets compromised despite all the precautionary measures, it is necessary to act quickly in a well-planned manner to avoid further damage in the system. The user should assess the source point of the attack, for example, a coronavirus phishing scam or email or bug. By knowing the starting point, you can cut off them immediately and conveniently. The damage will be limited and so can be catered to easily in comparison to the situation when the whole organization gets hit. There should be a backup plan for storing data like in cloud so that even if the affected end-point is frozen, the other parts can work seamlessly. A potent endpoint protection solution can help to block the data intrusions.
3. Use trusted tools
When working remotely do not use tools, services and software which is not reliable or does not have a brand value in the market space. Every company has its own trusted tech tools that can guard you from cybersecurity threats while working from home. These include firewall, antivirus software, 2-factor authentication system, VPN, and others.
4. Be updated
Keep your system updated for best results and protection. Our desktop system software gives timely reminders to us about the software updates. Though, we very often ignore them or fail to respond to them duly. This exposes our network to potential threats. Thus, it is essential to never ignore the update reminders as they help to protect the data and keeps the system in an updated state.
5. Be vigilant
The corona virus period has opened new doors of opportunities for the scammers. The malicious criminals send fake emails with virus-plugged links to the users working in homes. These links once clicked can download malware to your system. Then, they control your system and access crucial information related to finance and other operations.
6. Avoid sharing information
Do not trust anybody when it comes to professional data management or storage. It is advised not to share your passwords or security codes with anyone as it might pose a threat to your data. Cyber attacks are often executed by people who have access to you or your hardware. Also, do not write your passwords in a diary or a notebook from where it can be readily transmitted to others. Keep your desktop in a private room which is not visited by outsiders. Whenever you are away from your screen, lock the system with a strong password.
7. Keep VPN turned on
A Virtual Private Network or VPN can help to provide a safe channel between employees and business entities by encrypting the data. It is essential to keep your VPN on at all times while working so that your information is not exposed to cyber criminals and outside people.
- Ø The employers should distribute well-framed cybersecurity policy guidelines to its employees working from home.
- Ø There should be a detailed introduction on identification of phishing emails, scams, bugs, breaches, and other cyber attacks that can compromise the security.
- Ø They should be aware that any email or message demanding card details or personal information should be blocked immediately.
- Ø The remote workers should be given proper security training before allowing them to switch to work from home facility.
- Ø The departments holding the critical information should be scanned on a regular basis.
- Ø The use of cloud-based programs help to enhance security, monitoring, and transparency which in turn reduce the risk of attacks by intruders.
The current pandemic situation the world is facing is undoubtedly one of the toughest challenges. It has succumbed people to let go of their regular lifestyle and has compelled them to adopt a more restricted regime for social interactions. While the healthcare sector, our doctors, and researchers struggle to find the antidote to this dire crisis, managing our professional life is a battle in itself for one and all. Working from home is an effective way to execute social distancing as it allows the employees to ditch their traveling routines and face-to-face interactions with colleagues.
Where the concept has its merits, there exist some demerits as well which have been described in the article above. Security of data from outside attackers is one of the biggest challenges for firms these days. The article mentions a list of solutions which you can adopt to keep your data and information safe from cyberattacks. By acting cautiously against the scams or phishing emails, you can surely ensure the safety of your data and resources. We should understand that online safety is a collective responsibility and so its burden is to be borne by everyone associated with it- be it the employees or the employers. So, act prudently and enjoy your work from home stay.