By Mike Faden | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor
6 Min Read | June 26, 2020 in Life
Working from home can make you a more susceptible target for cyber criminals. Experts recommend taking extra care to reduce cyber security risks when working from home.
Cyber awareness training can help you spot and avoid many threats in email and on the web.
Using strong passwords for every device and application is among the simplest and most important recommendations.
While working from home, you may be even more reliant on technology than when working in a company’s office. And, you may be more distracted, by family, pets, or other sources that can interfere with your concentration. All of which means you could become a more susceptible target for cyber criminals—and need to be extra careful about cyber security protection.
For many people, working from home means relying largely on online tools and applications including email, videoconferencing platforms, and web browsers. That means also being exposed to cyber security risks, ranging from phishing emails to ransomware. Furthermore, people working at home often lack cyber security protections that are provided in corporate facilities, such as a secure corporate network.
The good news is that you can take simple precautions to improve your home cyber security and reduce the risks. Here are some of the top ways to stay safe from cyber security threats while working from home.
One key way to improve home cyber security is simply to get better at identifying and avoiding potential threats. That’s because most security lapses are at least partly due to human error. For example, if a malicious email message evades your spam filter and arrives in your inbox, it usually can only cause damage if you mistakenly click on a link or attachment in the message. What’s more, the distractions often associated with working from home can make you more likely to click when you shouldn’t.
Cyber security awareness training is designed to help you learn how to spot the threats. Do you regularly receive emailed shopping coupons or discount offers? Scrutinize them closely, even if they look like they’re from a familiar retailer. Is your CEO emailing you from their personal email account with an urgent request to transfer thousands of dollars to a supplier? That may seem highly important, but it should also ring alarm bells.
If you work for a company that offers cyber security awareness training to its employees, be sure to take it frequently, to stay abreast of the latest threats. If that option isn’t available, there are many online sources for awareness training and tips, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.1
Most cyber security threats are encountered in email or on websites, so it’s particularly important to be aware of those risks and know how to avoid them. Here are a few tips from the nonprofit Center for Internet Security:2
Many homes contain several devices that can connect to the internet—such as the home’s router or set-top box, WiFi access point, computers, phones, and smart devices like thermostats or alarm systems. It’s important to secure every one of those devices, because each is a potential entry point for a cybercriminal. Leaving a device unsecured is like leaving your windows and doors unlocked.
Online videoconferencing provides many of the advantages of face-to-face meetings without the need for travel. But videoconferences can also be misused: hackers may attempt to disrupt meetings or—perhaps even worse—silently watch in order to steal confidential information. To prevent problems, take a few precautions:
Working from home means an even greater reliance on technology, which also means it’s a good idea to be especially careful about cyber security protection. Basic steps, such as increasing awareness through training and securing all devices, can help you improve home cyber security and reduce the risks.
1 “Stop. Think. Connect. Toolkit,” U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
2 “11 Cyber Defense Tips to Stay Secure at Work and Home,” Center for Internet Security