Tips to stay safe while working from home: Threat actors actively exploiting atmosphere of fear
The COVID-19 scare has sent the global economy under quarantine. With businesses implementing work from home and social distancing policies, one would think that individuals can rest assured that they won’t be troubled by the virus or risk propagating it in turn.
(-By Sanjay Katkar, Joint Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer, Quick Heal Technologies Limited)
The COVID-19 scare has sent the global economy under quarantine. With businesses implementing work from home and social distancing policies, one would think that individuals can rest assured that they won’t be troubled by the virus or risk propagating it in turn. This is true to a large extent given that individuals are proactively practising self-hygiene. However, even as people are paying attention to the issue of public health in today’s pandemic-ridden world, another matter warrants equal attention to care if businesses are to keep functioning smoothly – that of cybersecurity.
Distasteful as it sounds, threat actors across the globe are actively exploiting the atmosphere of fear to execute cyberattacks on not just big organizations but SMEs as well. Wrapped around the theme of ‘Coronavirus’, the instances of malicious, automated emails have been reported in several countries across continents. India is no exception.
While businesses have enacted work from home policies as a precautionary measure to ensure the well-being of their employees, it has also opened up new avenues for cyber-criminals to leverage to breach the enterprise network. The challenges arise because personal devices that employees are now using in a work from home setting may not be as secure as corporate-owned devices. This has put underprepared and under-defended organizations at advanced risk of getting their valuable corporate data compromised at the hands of threat actors who are seeking to exploit such unsecured BYOD endpoints.
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So what can enterprises as well as working professionals do to ensure the integrity of their network and data privacy? The answer is simple: educate, empower, and equip themselves to practice a robust cybersecurity hygiene.
To begin with, companies must make sure that every device that has access to their networks is protected by adequate digital security measures. Some of the precautionary measures that organizations must implement under the present circumstances include:
- Enabling secure VPN for access to the enterprise network
- Securing corporate-owned devices through cloud based Endpoint Security
- Leveraging encryption and data loss prevention technologies to protect data against leakage and loss
- Implementing separation of personal and official data on BYOD devices by storing official data in an encrypted container
Enterprises also need to ensure that employees use pre-approved laptops and smartphones to access corporate materials, be it their emails, tools, or documents. Besides, businesses must focus on encouraging their employees to adopt healthy cybersecurity habits. These include using secure passwords, logging off while away from devices, downloading material from trusted sources only, and, above all, avoiding clicking on suspicious links.
For their part, employees need to realize that apart from hosting end-points that threat actors are seeking to exploit, they also represent the first line of defence. Therefore, they need to take proactive measures to secure their personal devices and home router while also being alert so that they can identify and evade phishing emails and sites.
The following are some quick tips that every work from home professional must keep in mind in these testing times:
- Tread with caution when accessing emails titled ‘Coronavirus’
- Even if the sender appears to be a legitimate source, double-check the email ID
- Practice extra care when dealing with the .PDF,.MP4,.DOC file formats
- Keep yourself updated; watch educational videos and read informative articles about Coronavirus
As the popular saying goes: prevention is better than cure. Hence, professionals need to practice good physical as well as cybersecurity hygiene to ensure that they come out of this ordeal not just unhurt but also stronger.
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