Since access to fast internet has become commonplace, and computing devices have become more agile and smart, experts have been considering the idea of remote working. However, the arrival of COVID-19, causing a global pandemic, has inevitably shifted many sectors to remote working without much provision for home network security.
Today, employees from various sectors all around the world are working from home. This sudden transition to remote working has significantly increased the load on home networks, which are not as secure as those found in the workplace.
As the trend of remote working becomes standard practice, experts have started showing concerns about cybersecurity. They believe that cybercriminals will shift their focus on targeting more remote employees and their companies with their malware attacks. We have already seen such instances since the beginning of this ongoing phase of remote working.
Why Remote Workers Need Any Extra Layer of Security?
Before discussing how remote workers and their companies can enhance their cybersecurity measures, it is imperative to understand why they need to be more diligent in this regard. Remote workers are working far away from the carefully crafted IT systems and networks within a professional organization’s premises. The absence of that security layer makes them more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and online predators.
When all employees work from within the organization, they use the same secured network supervised under stringent security policies. This reverses with remote working where every worker most likely uses a separate IP that the organization can’t track and hold accountable. A large number of unchecked IPs also increases the overall probability of a successful cyber-attack.
When employees work from home, some may develop a laidback attitude. This also affects their attentiveness while using the internet. Also, a company can’t ensure that all its workers workfrom devices that are not already hacked or infected by malware.
For all those reasons, both organizations and workers have to work to improve their remote workspace’s cybersecurity proactively.
How Employers Can Help Their Remote Workers
Organizations with an impressive IT and network security on their premises want to maintain the same environment even when mostof their workforce go remote. The following are the two things that they can do to maintain the synergy between in-office and remote working conditions while helping workers to maintain and comply with sound network security strategies.
- Conduct a cybersecurity training awareness program for remote workers to learn in detail about the things we are going to discuss here.
- Give support for security software and service and standardize the same support regimen across all remote workers.
Organizations should try to find a single third-party entity that can provide expertise and resources for both these measures.
Things Employees Need to Dofor Safe Remote Working
When employees work from within the premises of their organization, they don’t have the sole responsibility of the network and data security, although cybersecurity is everybody’s responsibility. The organization’s IT and network security team takes care of external and internal threats so employees can focus more on their job.
Generally, when employees start working from home, they become in-charge of everything, including network and data security. Here, we will discuss some things that employees can do on their own for consolidating their cybersecurity on their home network.
Protection Against Phishing Attacks
A phishing attack is a malevolent attempt to gain confidential information. Criminals usually use emails to launch such attacks. Since people tend to respond to professional emails promptly, criminals often disguise themselves as professionals and carry out phishing attempts.
All phishing attacks are not of the same nature. They differ from each other based on the manoeuvres that online predators take and also the target of the attack.Below are some examples:
Email phishing: This is a general type of phishing where cybercriminals create a fake domain and imitate any real organization. They then send hundreds and thousands of generic phishing emails in that organization’s name.
Spear phishing:Thisis a more targeted phishing where criminals often target a particular individual after collecting their important background information (full names, job titles, employer, specific description of their work, etc.).
Whaling: This is a more subtle attempt of phishing where criminals target C-suite executives of an organization to get access to sensitive data.
Angler phishing:It is a relatively newer phishing variant where criminals used fake accounts, posts, cloned websites to compromise the network security of the target or to steal their information.
Smishing: It is the messaging (SMS) variant of phishing emails.
Vishing: It is the telephonic variant of phishing emails where criminals try to steal information on phone calls by pretending as high-authority personnel.
To identify an email as a phishing attempt, take these things into account.
- Has email come from a public domain?
- Is the body of the email poorly written and composed?
- Is the mail includes a suspicious attachment or link
- Is the sender a known and important person?
- Is the sender asking for any important piece of information?
To make sure you don’t become a victim of a phishing attack, and inadvertently leak any critical information, take these strategies into account.
- Don’t just look at the sender’s name. Always double-check the email address from which the email is received.
- Even if you have verified the email ID and know who they are, always get a confirmation on call if they are asking for the information and data mentioned in the email.
- Avoid using email to send passwords, account details, and other critical data.
Protection Against Domain Spoofing
Domain Spoofing is another type of cyber-attack that employees are more likely to face while working from a remote location. In domain spoofing, criminals spoof a website’s domain (http://wwf.acebook-com.io) and send it to their targets for stealing their credentials and other important information.
Besides spoofing the URL of an authentic website, criminals also spoof the content, layout, and colour scheme of the website to make sure users don’t doubt the URL for a moment.
- Employees should bookmark all the important system URLs and addresses, so they don’t have to search for them again.
- Employees should always double-check the domain of the website where they are entering any credentials.
- Organizations should conduct a training session of their employees to educate them on the intricacies of how cybercriminals employ their schemes through domain spoofing.
- Spoofed websites don’t make secure, encrypted web connections. If a web address is not preceded by “https” or a padlock sign, it is not a secure domain.
Put Safe Internet Browsing Into Practice
As mentioned earlier, it is possible that some workers could become slightly reckless while working from home on the internet. As an employee, it is one’s responsibility to practice safe internet browsing. Organizations should also get third-party experts onboard for giving cybersecurity awareness training to their employees.
Here, we are sharing some information that can help people with safe internet browsing.
- Social media, file-sharing, and adult websites are more prone to host spyware. So, try to avoid surfing those websites on your work computer. If you have to download a file from a file-sharing website, make sure it is a reliable domain and establishes a secure connection.
- Always try to download files, software, applications from a trusted website. Cybercriminals regularly use the ploy of the “download” tab to transmit malware to users’ devices.
- Enable antivirus and firewall protection on your working device.
- Make sure the website you visit has its URL prefixed with the ‘https’ protocol or Secure SSL connection indicated by a padlock.
Organizations wanting to play a proactive role in improving the overall network security can also conduct online lessons for their workers on phishing, domain spoofing, and safe web browsing.
5 Measures that Companies Should Take to Secure Remote Workspace
Besides educating their employees about various aspects of cybersecurity, organizations can take some functional measures to beef up the security of a virtual workspace.
Start Using Multi-Factor Authentication
If you think that your data is sensitive and prone to theft, you need to revise its accessibility in a remote workspace. Passwords offer an excellent first line of defence against cyber-attacks. However, they can’t withstand more sophisticated attacks. To thwart such malevolent cyber-attacks, it is better if you equip your portal server with multi-factor authentication.
Using a 2-factor authentication proves to be effective in securing access to a database when it is exposed to various unauthorized IP addresses. You can combine passwords with either text messages or email to enable 2-factor authentication of your web portal. This will ensure that only authorized people are accessing the system.
Use Encrypted Modes of Correspondence
The contemporary workspaces are pretty agile and interactive. When they are confined to physical premises, you can keep their correspondences private and secure. However, when an entire workspace shifts to remote working with every worker working from a distant location, it becomes difficult to establish a streamlined correspondence mechanism.
To make sure your company’s workspace remains agile, interactive, and secure, use encrypted modes of correspondence. You have various options to establish it.
Encrypted Email Server: You can shift your email domain to an external email server that offers encryption. These servers offer secure email correspondence through SSL cryptographic protocols.
Encrypted Messaging:Use messaging apps that transmit your data with end-to-end encryption. This way, you can make sure no one can spy on your communication when it is in transit.
Encrypted Video Conferencing: If you don’t want cybercriminals to disrupt your meetings while working remotely, you need to use an encrypted platform for video conferencing.Encrypted video conferencing applications generally use 256-bit TLS and AES-256 protocols to ensure online predators can’t thwart video transmission.
Disallow BYOD Practice
Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) is a practice that entails employees using their private devices to do their professional work. When organizations moved to remote working in the wake of lockdowns, the BYOD practice has become more common.BYOD work approachcomes with its cybersecurity vulnerabilities because you are not in complete control of the devices being used.
By complete control, we mean you don’t have the administrative authority on the device. For instance, unlike their workstation, workers can download any application and software on their personal devices without an IT expert’s supervision.
Moreover, it isthe employees’ discretion to use their devices and if they want to sell and replace them. To take care of all those uncontrollable factors, organizations should disallow BYOD practice and make it mandatory for their workers to only work on the devices provided by the organization.
Get a VPN Subscription
If you are wary that your domain and the digital system will be accessed by unsafe public networks, get a VPN subscription, and make sure that all your employees use it while working. Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates a tunnel-like route for users that makes their data transmission safe and secure on any public network and IP. Neither internet service providers nor hackers and snoopers can infiltrate into that tunnel acting as a virtual private network.
Use Protocols to Prevent Domain Spoofing
To make sure their domains don’t get spoofed by criminals to exploit their workers and steal their information, organizations can use Domain Key Identified Mail (DKIM). This key allows senders to link the domain name with the email message to establish its authenticity.
They can also use the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) for the same purpose. The SPF ensures that a domain holder (the company) can prevent the spoofing of its domain name by criminals.
4 Measures Workers Can Integrate Into their Work from Home Routine
As en employee working from a remote location, you also need to take some measures to make your Work from Home (WFH) environment digitally secure.
Update Your PC with Latest Anti-Malware Software
Having anti-malware software in your device is essential irrespective of the nature of your use, and when you start using your device for work, it becomes a must. Work with seasoned cybersecurity professionals to find out what is the best anti-malware software for your device.
Whether you are using Windows, macOS, or Linux, you can enable the Firewall of your operating system and block all the potentially harmful programs and web addresses in advance. This precaution will make sure you don’tcome upon any harmful web connection even accidentally.
Improve the Security of your Home Router
When you start working from home, have a revision of your internet router’s settings. Here are somestepsto ensure your home network is not accessible by unauthorised intruders:
- Change factory default passwords.Set a long and complex password that can’t be cracked in a couple of guesses.
- Enable MAC filtering to ensure no unauthorised device can connect to your home network.
- Enable WPA2 encryption on your router.
- Update the router firmware regularly.
Regularly Make Backups of Your Work Files
Another good practice of a good cybersecurity routine is to make data backups. When you work at your employer’s premises, you may not have to think about it. However, as a remote worker working from home, you are also responsible for the security and retrieval of the data from your end; for that, you will need to make data backups.
There are many easy and free ways to create data backups. Your data can be backed up to your regular cloudstorage provider.
To find out more about network security for remote workers and workspaces, contact Cyber Engineers. We are a team of dedicated cybersecurity professionals whose main objective is to keep people and businesses secure against cyber-crime and online predators.
Cyber Engineers is a Cisco Networking Academy, dedicated to providing practical hands-on training in cybersecurity and computer networking delivered by experienced instructors through our blended learning arrangement.
We have also teamed up with renowned names in cybersecurity to provide unparalleled consumer and corporate cybersecurity solutions for companies and remote workers.