Working from Home: COVID-19’s Constellation of Security Challenges

Whether you have been quarantined since February or you have just entered the lockdown several days ago, we are sure that you have been affected by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic in one way or the other. Quite unexpectedly, we have found ourselves in the midst of challenging times, and it is one of our main objectives to persevere through it and emerge stronger. To achieve that, we have pay attention to the smallest details of our lives during the pandemic, so that we could have a decent bigger picture.

We’re here to help you patch one of group of those smaller details. Since we deal with cybersecurity, we would like to cover several aspects of cyber safety that is closely associated with working from home (thereafter, WFH). While you might think that home is probably the safest place you could ever be, you’re still using technology to “get out” of your house and to get some work done. Therefore, you have to make sure that the way you use that technology is not dangerous or counterproductive.

The importance of a routine

Before we cut down to the chase, we would like to throw in a few words about your home office, too. And trust us when we say this: your bed is not the optimal solution for your WFH station. Maybe you can save a lot of time when you don’t need to commute, but if you used to wake up at seven in the morning, you should still keep up with that routine when you work from home, too. Breaking this routine and working in sporadic bursts can eventually prove to be counterproductive (unless you are the type that works the best with sporadic schedule). Hence, it is for the best to follow the same routine you have otherwise had before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Also, if possible, it is advised to have your WFH corner somewhere at home. Like we’ve mentioned above, the bed is not a good corner for that. Just like it would be great to have separate devices for your work and home usage. Say, you could have your laptop only for work, and use a desktop computer for leisure time at home. At the same time, we do realize that it is a great privilege to be able to separate devices according to your means. If you cannot afford to do that, consider creating separate accounts on your computer for work and for home activities.

WFH account security

Separate user accounts bring us to the next point we want to make, and it’s closely related to cybersecurity. When you work from home, you clearly need to access sensitive information, don’t you? And no one else can see that data but you. So, if your workplace cannot provide you with an extra device and you have to use a shared computer to perform your tasks, what can you do to make the entire process safer?

The answer is, passwords. Yes, you can create a new user account on a shared computer, but let’s not forget that you have to protect it, too. The same applies to all the other accounts that you use at work. Even if they are online, you should make sure that you use strong and unique passwords, and that they are updated regularly. Maybe you think that you are the only one who uses those accounts, but there’s always a chance that someone might be listening in. So, there’s no harm in coming up with strong passwords or using a password manager to help you with that. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

WFH network security

And if we’re talking about someone listening in, have you checked whether your networks are protected, too? If you have multiple devices at home, you’re clearly using a Wi-Fi network, right? Is your network still using the same default router password or have you changed it? Have you ever tried connecting to your neighbour’s Bluetooth speaker? You wouldn’t like anyone to connect to yours, now would you? That’s why every single device and every single network should have a strong password or a passkey enabled. Let’s not forget that your home network might not be as safe as the network intended entirely for business back at your office. So, you have to do everything in your power to avoid unauthorized access.

Online responsibility

Finally, let’s not forget that cybercrime and malware are rampant in times of global disturbance, so you have to be careful about that, too. When we work from home, we get distracted a lot easier, and thus, we can fall prey to various malware schemes without too much thought. Thus, if possible, minimize web browsing only to the sites that you need to access to perform your tasks when you work from home.

Use only the official apps that you have to utilize at work (if applicable), and we careful about clicking links that you receive from unknown senders. If you have to deal with tons of emails every single day, please don’t forget that emails (especially the phishing campaigns) are often used to distribute ransomware. Hence, if you receive an urgent email from someone you don’t know, and the message in that email urges you to open the attached file immediately, you should stop right there.

Do you have a reliable antispyware tool installed on your computer at home? This is exactly the situation where you can make use of your security tool and scan all the received files before you open them. It should be part of your daily routine, especially if you have to process a lot of documents for work. No one would want to get infected with ransomware while working, so it’s always best to be safe than sorry.

All in all, when you work from home, you have to employ the same safety measures as the ones you would otherwise use at your office. Just don’t get distracted by a random link on a social media platform, and it should all be alright.