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Don’t Get Hacked at Home: A Guide to Secure Remote Work

By: Adam Boyle, Business Consultant

The COVID-19 pandemic has many of us working from home offices. While it’s a critical step for keeping ourselves and others safe from contracting and spreading the novel coronavirus, cybercriminals look for any way to exploit weaknesses in systems. Protect your computer, your data, and your company from cyberthreats by taking precautions and employing security best practices while working remotely.

Hackers play on fear

Cyber criminals use fear tactics to try to manipulate you into taking an action that grants them access or information they can exploit. Mounting uncertainties and the unknowns about the COVID-19 pandemic typify the exact scenario hackers will use to send phishing or spearphishing emails.

Even though your environment is different, take the same precautions you would at the office about opening emails, clicking links, and downloading files. Remember that hackers use a sense of urgency to pressure you to take an action. Cybersecurity is a frame of mind, and the most powerful thing you can do is slow down and think. Call up a co-worker to verify a strange email or request. Be suspicious of unexpected emails. Double-check with the source before downloading any attachments.

Additionally, hackers are designing malicious websites disguised as information sources about the spread of the coronavirus. Some sites are showing up on Facebook designed as sophisticated live feed maps of the spread of the disease with real-time updates. But the sites are embedded with malware, which will slow your computer.

Use verified sources

Use trusted sources. Don’t click on Facebook links. Stick with verified sources like government and news channels. A few verified sources include:

  • Kansas Department of Health and Environment
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • World Health Organization

We are all under higher levels of stress than normal. Be aware that stress can make us more vulnerable to do things we wouldn’t normally do. Having awareness and taking precautions will go a long way toward keeping you safe.

The best way to access the server at the office while working from home is by a virtual private network, or VPN. It passes through your company firewall with a secure tunnel that lets you work with files and systems on your workstation at the office just like you were there.

At Networks Plus, we use and trust LogMeIn as a secure remote access. It allows users to securely access their computer desktop as if they were sitting in front of it. Users can store, share, and collaborate on files with one click, and even print documents from a remote computer to the nearest printer.

Keep software and applications up to date

Hackers not only exploit fear, they exploit system weaknesses. Make sure your computer is safe and secure by updating all operating systems, applications, and software when patches are released.

Set updates to happen at night so they don’t interrupt your workflow. Just don’t forget to install them.

Your security and firewall should work from anywhere

Computers taken off premise to a home office don’t have to adhere to firewall rules set up at the office, because those rules are bound geographically. Setting up managed DNS (domain name system) on work computers makes the rules specific to the device, and they apply no matter the location of the computer.

Managed DNS works by redirecting web traffic through a cloud-based, DNS security solution. That means businesses can enforce the same web access policies and regulatory compliance when employees are working remotely. Even better, it stops the vast majority of threats before they come near the network or endpoints. At Networks Plus, we recommend Webroot Managed DNS.

Consider new protection measures

There are promising new cyber security developments called real time threat detection that go a long way toward keeping users safe from computer malware, ransomware, viruses, hacking, and all kinds of systems exploitation.

Real time threat detection works by using artificial intelligence to detect user signatures. The threat detection monitors how employees use their machines on a daily basis. If the program detects something suspicious or unusual, it will notice the anomaly and send an alert to the monitoring team so threats can be stopped in real time.

For example, if an employee who uses their computer on a daily basis but never accesses the security feature suddenly goes in and starts making advanced changes, real time threat detection would trigger an alert.

Real time threat detection also scans PDF files for malicious content before the user opens them. It’s the next generation of antivirus software, and we expect it to grow in usage quickly. At Networks Plus, we recommend a program called Sentinel One real time threat detection software.

Call Networks Plus for help

Cybercriminals never back off, even when the world is in crisis. Don’t let the transition to remote work put your systems at risk. Give us a call and let us help you keep your systems and business safe.

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