We have a lot to thank technology for. Ultimately, it has made our personal and private lives more convenient, whether it’s wearable smartwatches that track our fitness goals or apps that allow offices to schedule meetings.
When it comes to digital disruption in the workplace, the rise of remote work shows just how much our society has evolved due to technology. Almost everyone has access to a computer and stable internet, which is why both employees and employers have been leaning towards remote work. But while remote work has huge benefits like accessibility and efficiency, it doesn't come without its fair share of challenges — one of which is cybersecurity.
If you're a remote worker, you pretty much depend on technology for most of your work tasks, so it's only right to make sure all your channels are protected.
The threat of a cyber attack
So what happens when a remote worker’s laptop or computer gets compromised? This is the one tool that enables remote professionals to get most of their work done, which means that hackers pose a serious threat. To make matters worse, Small Biz Genius found that over 90% of security breaches can be boiled down to human error.
While lots of email providers and software come with their own built-in security protocol, relying on them as your only form of protection is no longer feasible. The amount of cybersecurity attacks out there should be enough of a warning sign. There is a vast collection of cybersecurity tutorials on Udemy with leading instructor Alexander Oni focusing his beginner courses on the different types of attacks you need to recognize, from malware to phishing. Such diversity shows the many ways a hacker can compromise your system, and it's important to be aware of how these threats can present themselves so you know how to handle them.
How to secure yourself
Like we mentioned, remote workers have a lot to lose at the hands of a data breach. However, it's not just some work files and emails that are at risk — even personal data can be compromised. Furthermore, remote workers don’t have the same resources a company might have in order to rebuild from an attack.
Here are some tips that go beyond setting secure passwords:
Avoid public Wi-Fi
It may be tempting to quickly log on and check your messages, but know that public Wi-Fi networks are a melting pot of potential threats, as these can be accessed by anyone. Even WPA2 encrypted networks are found to be unstable because they allow hackers to intercept passwords.
If you have a router at home, ensure that it’s VPN-encrypted. As mentioned in our previous post on VPNs, installing one directly on your router ensures that all connected devices are secure. The VPN works by blocking your device’s IP address from any website you access, thus giving you the peace of mind to research freely.
Keep devices updated
Updating your devices can seem like yet another chore to do, which is why many people tend to delay updates as much as possible. That being said, security additions are part of the reason why updates are so frequent. With Forbes reporting that IoT cyber attacks have surged by over 300% this year, keeping your devices up to date can easily prevent a breach.
Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Organizations should be reminding their team to change their passwords frequently. In fact, some even have scheduled password changes in order for members to continue accessing the company’s systems. Adding 2FA on top of this is another layer of security, as it works by sending users a random numerical code (i.e. via text) after they’ve inputted their password.
Invest in cyber insurance
Cyber insurance is a growing field, and can thus be a good option particularly for those who conduct most (if not all) of their business online. You should try and opt for standalone policies, as these tend to be more comprehensive. You might also want to look at the time frame that each insurance plan covers. Most data breaches kick in after laying dormant in the system for weeks or months, so it’s important you understand what you can be insured for.
Back it up on the cloud
PC World’s guide to cloud backups suggests that they should be complementary to your physical hard drives. Hard drives allow you to carry your data securely, but cloud storage provides an off-site option that can secure your information in case your hard drive gets stolen or damaged. Lots of providers offer flexible packages, allowing users to cater the service to their needs.
Spread the word
For anyone who manages remote workers they should check in with their team and ensure that each member understands the importance of cybersecurity attacks. Most people are aware of the looming threat of hackers and data breaches, but they tend to think that such crippling attacks only occur at huge organizations. It’s important to note that small businesses and remote workers are actually the prime targets of a security hack, precisely because they don’t have the same security protocol that a huge company might have.
Strong cybersecurity protocol should be the first priority of every remote worker or team, even before starting operations. The good news is that it’s not too late to update your security systems.