Many people continue to work from home despite the reopening of offices after the pandemic subsided. Their motivations for doing so include a better work-life balance and increased productivity. While working from home allows them to achieve these, it comes with a dilemma: cybersecurity risks.
Cybercriminals frequently target remote workers because they’re less cautious about their internet and data security. In fact, cyberattacks have risen by 238% between 2020 and 2022. Cybercriminals get ahold of sensitive information like work data and financial details to use for malicious purposes.
To avoid this, here are a few cybersecurity tips you can follow as a work-from-home professional:
Regularly update your software
Your computer and its operating system often require software updates for many reasons, including increased security. Hackers find loopholes in a software’s structure, which allows them to breach it and steal data. It’s in software updates that the developers address these instances. They usually add a note before an update to disclose previous exploits and explain how they fixed them to avoid repeated cyberattacks.
Thus, regularly updating your devices’ software and programs—including web browsers, apps, and communication platforms—increases your protection from cybercrime. So you don’t forget to update your software, you can go to your computer’s settings and enable automatic updates.
Enable two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication is a method where a person is only granted access to an account, website, or platform if they log in through two separate processes. The standard two-factor authentication method involves providing your username and password followed by a unique code sent via SMS. This prevents cybercriminals from accessing your device.
Most apps and programs today already have two-factor authentication. Just enable it in your settings and provide the necessary details, like your phone number. If a program you’re using doesn’t have this feature, use a third-party app like Authy or Google Authenticator.
Invest in VPN
When you connect to unsecured wifi, an attacker can come between you and your internet connection point. This means that when you send over information, an attacker can access your data to enact identity theft, fraud, or more. Another risk of using unsecured wifi is malware infection. This is when a wifi router gets a virus after someone modifies its settings. Your device gets infected with the virus when you connect to the router.
This is why an important tip for professionals working from home is to invest in a virtual private network (VPN). This creates an encrypted tunnel for your data and hides your IP address, which attackers can use to track you. This way, attackers can’t see your online activity and access sensitive work data. When choosing a VPN to install on your computer or phone, go for one that isn’t free, as some “free” VPNs sell your data. Be sure to read reviews of a VPN software to further gauge its effectiveness and reliability.
Take cybersecurity awareness programs
If you work for a company, you might have been offered to complete a cybersecurity training program—especially as a work-from-home employee. If you have yet to attend one, do so immediately because this will inform you of the best way to protect your work.
If you’re self-employed or a freelancer, you can take online cybersecurity programs for more structured learning. These have reading material and mentors you can consult for questions about your internet safety as a professional. It also has short quizzes to test your understanding of cybersecurity practices. Udemy and Springboard both offer these types of programs.
Work-from-home professionals are common victims of cyberattacks. Regularly update your devices’ software, enable two-factor authentication, invest in VPN, and take cybersecurity awareness courses to increase your protection from cybercrime.
Jen Bennet is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about social media, work-from-home life, and freelancing tips. In her spare time, you can find her reading science fiction books and cycling around town.