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7 Cyber Security Tips for Remote Workers

The rise of remote work and telecommuting is well documented in the media. Zoom meeting fatigue and “you’re on mute” are now commonly used phrases. But, even with more remote jobs, we’re hearing less about the vulnerability of cyber security threats. Aside from using strong passwords, performing software updates, and optimizing operating systems, add these seven cyber security tips to your business or work-from-home routine.

Cyber Security Threats on the Rise

According to a McAfee study, 81% of global organizations have experienced an increase in cyber security threats since the onset of the pandemic. And it’s no surprise. Because more employees are working from less secure locations, utilizing public wi-fi, and using cloud-based programs to stay connected with their remote teams, the threat has grown.

At one point since 2020, it’s estimated that 51% of Americans were working remotely. Cybercriminals took notice and are exploiting the dip in security to ransom millions of dollars from businesses. The financial burden of security breaches on companies varies greatly, with the majority of data breaches costing anywhere from $800 to $650,000, according to a report by Verizon. During the pandemic, the average cost of a data breach to a company has risen to $21,659.

You don’t have to run a company or remote work full-time to be affected by cyber security. Here are just a few examples that demonstrate the importance of data security, i.e. being able to safely share sensitive information online:

  • A freelancer emailing a W-9 to a client
  • An educator sharing student information with a parent over email or a software program
  • A healthcare provider sharing test results with a patient 
  • A mortgage broker receiving financial information from a home buyer or seller

Cyber Security Tips for Companies

From freelancing to large businesses, these cyber security tips can help minimize your chance of being hit by cyber attacks.

1. Securely Collect Data

Running a GDPR compliance check on your websites can help ensure that you’re using secure programs. It’s absolutely imperative to be in compliance with data privacy and protection. Programs like Vanta and Osao can run compliance audits and help your site keep information safe.

2. Cyber Security Training

Do your team members know how to spot a phishing scam or spam message? When a team member falls victim to a data breach, it threatens the security of the entire network. Providing routine IT training that include updates on cyber security trends can help team members stay vigilant against security threats.

3. Use a VPN for Remote Work Access

The most common way to fall victim to a data security breach is by using an unsecured wifi network. Provide remote workers with a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt their internet activity and monitor for security threats. Using a VPN gives remote workers online privacy while using a public internet connection or on mobile devices. Providing employees with access to a coworking space can increase the security of networks used by remote workers.

Cyber Security Tips for Remote Workers

Even if you’re not running a business, it’s important to protect your information. Try these simple tips to increase cyber security at home or on personal devices.

1. Two-Factor Authentication

MFA (multi-factor authentication) and 2FA require users to provide more than just a username and password to log in to a website or app. This includes sending a one-time code via email or text, or using the Google authentication app. A study by Microsoft found that using 2FA blocks 99.9% of automated attacks. A Google study found that adding a recovery phone number to your Google account can block up to 100% of automated bots and 99% of bulk phishing attacks.

2. Password Managers

Haven member and web/UI/UX designer, Laura MacCarley, recommends using a password manager like LastPass or 1Password to create and store unique passwords for all of your websites and apps. Your online accounts will be more secure and you only have to remember one password instead of 4,687 passwords. This allows you to create more difficult passwords that don’t include pets’ names or birthdates and store them in one secure place.

3. Secure Home Wi-Fi Networks

Hackers love unsecured wifi networks to gain access to your sensitive data. You can make your home network more secure by:

  • Creating a strong, unique password
  • Verifying that you’ve enabled network encryption.

To update your network password, type “192.168.1.1” into your browser to access your router’s settings page. Here, you can also change the name of your network (SSID). Go to your wireless configuration page and check your security settings to make sure network encryption is enabled.

4. Encrypt Emails

When sending personal information, like your tax returns or W-9s, it’s important to encrypt your emails. Using an encryption program, like Virtru, requires the recipient to login to their email using a password in order to access the information. You can also configure settings to allow one-time access to the information or force it to expire after a set amount of time.

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