Tips from the Community on Maintaining Online Safety

October is internationally recognized as Cybersecurity Awareness Month, with the aim of informing people about the importance of cybersecurity both in the workplace and in the home, and equipping them with the necessary skills to do so. This year’s theme is ‘See Yourself in Cyber’, which highlights the actions we can take to bolster cybersecurity everywhere. Everyone has a responsibility in enhancing cybersecurity, regardless of whether they are specialists in the field or simply conducting remote work from their residence.

With the increasing number of remote workers, the need for effective cybersecurity measures has never been greater. Without adequate protection, confidential information could be vulnerable to malicious attacks. Unencrypted communication platforms, online data forms, shared calendars and documents are all potential sources of security breaches. It is therefore essential to take proactive steps to ensure online safety and protect against potential threats.

We polled Works‘ pool of experts for their best advice on how to keep remote workers safe, and we got six great suggestions!

Put in place anti-virus software, and keep it up to date

Malware, also known as malicious software, is a popular tool used by cybercriminals to access sensitive data. To infect your device and obtain your personal information, malware will often try to lure you into downloading dangerous applications. As a remote worker, how can you protect yourself from this type of malicious software? Installing an anti-virus programme is the best way to keep yourself safe. Although companies should have anti-malware software installed on work computers, it is the responsibility of the remote worker to ensure their own security. Popular anti-virus software options include Bitdefender, Norton, and Trend Micro. Make sure to keep your software up to date with the latest versions when available.

Beware of attempts at social control

Social media platforms are often used for the disclosure of private and professional details. This practice is known as ‘social engineering’, where a cybercriminal deceives a target into providing confidential information, such as passwords or bank account data. This type of attack is commonly known as ‘phishing’. It is important to be vigilant when handling emails, particularly from unknown sources. To avoid becoming a victim of phishing, please ensure that all emails are verified before sending, and that attachments or links are not accessed or replied to immediately. If in doubt, forward the email to your IT department or delete it.

Protect your wireless network better.

Cybercriminals may attempt to compromise your security by attempting to gain access to your home Wi-Fi network. To increase the security of your wireless network, take steps to ensure a robust password is in place. This password should not be easily guessed and should not be written down or stored in a readily accessible location.

Do not believe anything without first checking it out

Two-factor authentication (2FA) provides an extra layer of security for online accounts by requiring both a password and a one-time code from the authenticator app or security system. This can help to prevent phishing emails and malware attacks from being successful.

A password is one form of authentication, but two additional methods are a one-time code and push notification. SMS is a simple option however, it is not considered a secure method of authentication as fraudsters have discovered ways to exploit telecommunication companies through social engineering. It is therefore recommended to use an authenticator app, such as Google Authenticator, for added security.

Make Use of a Virtual Private Network

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) can be used for more than just bypassing geographical restrictions on content; they can also protect users’ anonymity while browsing the internet. By making use of a VPN, users can send and receive data over public networks in a secure manner, as if they were directly connected to a private network. This allows users to access their private data securely, even while connected to public networks, such as those found in coffee shops or shared office spaces. When selecting a VPN, however, users should exercise caution, as some may contain malicious software that could put their device at risk.

Turn on self-locking features

It is important to ensure the security of your device before leaving it unattended, regardless of where you are – a coworking space, home office, or a café. Although this may seem like an obvious precaution, we are all guilty of leaving our phones or computers unlocked while we are not paying attention. Thankfully, there is a solution available in the form of automatic locking. This feature is usually activated by default on most modern computers and laptops, including Apple products. To improve security, it is recommended to set an appropriate lock time, e.g. 15 seconds for a mobile device and three minutes for a laptop.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month; Have Fun! Remember to maintain your online safety at all times!

Advice was provided from the Works Community.

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