In many ways, working remotely can be the ideal gig. You don’t have to worry about childcare. You may get to set your own hours. Best of all, you can work from anywhere, whether poolside, beach side or from your favorite cafe.
However, remote work isn’t without its potential drawbacks, particularly when it comes to the issue of cybersecurity. Indeed, the virtual office space often brings a host of security risks that workers accustomed to the physical workplace may never have considered.
This article explores the top cyber security risks newly remote workers should know about and provides strategies for avoiding them.
- Unsecured Wi-Fi and Vulnerable Apps
Perhaps the greatest cybersecurity threat that remote workers can face is that of unsecured Wi-Fi and vulnerable apps. If you are using an unsecured connection to do your work, then your system could easily be hacked.
Webcams, for example, can be particularly vulnerable to infiltration by bad actors who gain access through Wi-Fi or through vulnerabilities in teleconferencing or other apps connected to your webcam.
Unfortunately, these threats aren’t just confined to public Wi-Fi. Even your home-based Wi-Fi can be hacked if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Similarly, even well-known apps can be susceptible to malware infection and other security breaches, particularly if your anti-virus software is not up to date.
This is why it’s imperative that remote workers remain vigilant to the risks. At the very least, you will want to ensure that your Wi-Fi is password protected and that you have updated anti-virus software installed on every device. In addition, you should use two-factor authentication for any device or app that you use for work purposes. Ideally, a firewall or virtual private network (VPN) can help erect a sort of virtual fortress around your data, including ensuring that your work devices are insulated from any vulnerabilities that your other connected devices, such as your home’s smart tech, might introduce to your network.
- Doing Work on Personal Devices
Another significant threat to the security of your work data arises when you use your personal devices to do your work or access work-related materials, such as using your personal email to send and receive potentially sensitive documents.
Personal devices and systems tend to be far less secure than those provided by your employer. For instance, many work-related platforms operate behind a firewall or on a VPN, whereas most personal devices do not.
That’s not the only risk, however. Because our personal devices are, well, personal, it’s only natural that we may not be as vigilant with these devices as we would be with work-issued tech. Chances are, you take your personal devices everywhere you go, which also increases the likelihood that your tech might get lost or stolen. If you have work materials or info on a personal device, especially one that’s not password protected, you’ve primed the pump for a security breach.
This is why, when you’re learning best practices for remote work, one of the first and most important things you can do is establish a routine for checking the status of your devices and updating your security protocols. In addition, you should maintain a dedicated and well-organized workspace, performing work only on secure, designated devices, which you have in your possession at all times.
- Not Updating Your Security Software
As important as passwords, firewalls, and anti-virus software are, they’re only as effective as their most recent update. If you’re not changing passwords frequently, installing security patches as needed, and updating your antivirus regularly, you could be setting yourself up to be hacked.
After all, bad actors are always working and cybersecurity threats are ever-evolving. This means, in short, that setting up a secure system is far from a one-and-done prospect. Regarding Cybersecurity when working remotely, complacency may be the greatest threat of all.
Remote work, for many employees, offers a perfect balance of convenience and productivity. However, cyberthreats in the virtual office are very real and ever-changing. The good news, though, is that there are a number of highly effective strategies remote workers can use to protect themselves, their company, and their clients from these risks.