Cyber-Security In Times of Pandemic
Take a deep breath and reread the work instructions sent by your company. Those instructions should describe what programs you should use for calling, video conferencing, file sharing, and whether you need a virtual private network (VPN) to log into your network. If your company’s instructions do not describe these things, ask!
Virtual Private Networks. There are two main uses for VPNs. The former are consumer personal VPNs that create a security proxy for the Internet so that you can maintain your privacy on public Wi-Fi networks. There are also corporate VPNs, which are generally used to access office resources. These allow your computer to connect to your company network as if it were in the building. Ask your IT department if you need a VPN, and if so, which one do you want it to use. If you do not have an IT department, the most well-known VPN providers include Express VPN, NordVPN, and CyberGhost. Keep in mind that all this costs money.
Your Wireless Network. Today, almost all home networks depend on a wireless or Wi-Fi network. Securing your wireless network is a key part of protecting your home:
- Change the default administrator password to your Internet router or wireless access point. The administrator account is what allows you to configure the settings for your wireless network.
- Make sure that only people you trust can connect to your wireless network. Do this by enabling strong security. Currently, the best option is to use the security mechanism called WPA-2. By enabling this, a password is required for people to connect to your home network, and once connected, their online activities are encrypted.
- Make sure the password used to connect to your wireless network is secure and different from the administrator password. Remember, you only need to enter the password once for each of your devices as they store and remember the password.
- Many wireless networks support what is called a guest network. This allows visitors to connect to the Internet but protects your home network as they cannot connect to any of the other devices on your home network. If you add a guest network, be sure to enable WPA-2 and a unique password for the network. Not sure how to do these steps? Ask your Internet Service Provider or check their website.
Your Devices: The next step is to find out which devices are connected to your wireless home network and make sure all those devices are secure. This used to be simple when you only had a computer or two. However, almost anything can be connected to your home network today, including smartphones, televisions, game consoles, baby monitors, speakers, or even your car. After you have identified all the devices on your home network, make sure each of them is secure. The best way to do this is to make sure you have automatic updates enabled whenever possible. Cybercriminals constantly find new weaknesses in different devices and operating systems. By enabling automatic updates,
Passwords– The next step is to use a strong and unique password for each of your devices and online accounts. The keywords here are strong and unique. Tired of complex passwords that are hard to remember and hard to type? That is how we are. Use a passphrase instead. This is a type of password that uses a series of easy-to-remember words, such as “Where’s my coffee?” The longer your passphrase, the stronger. A unique password means using a different password for each device and online account. This way, if a password is compromised, all your other accounts and devices are still safe. Cannot remember all those strong and unique passwords? Do not worry, neither do we.
Make a backup of your data. Most companies back up their networks behind the scenes, so workers never have to think about backing up. Check if that will continue to happen if you work remotely. If not, ask your company what the new backup procedure is. For small amounts of data, you can store files for free on Google Drive and DropBox.
Signature of documents remotely. If you are not in the office to sign forms, DocuSign and HelloSign are safe programs to get digitized.
Facetime, Google, Slack OR Teams. You probably already have the programs you need on your computer and phone for conferences and video calls. If you do not, see what your company recommends. If you have new apps to download, be sure to get them from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Both companies are being very careful with applications now. Under no circumstances use third-party app sites – they are known to be havens for malware. If you see a tool you have never heard of, instead of going ahead and downloading it, ask someone at work.