How To Make Sure That Your Network Remains Safe Whilst Working From Home?

Your Network Remains Safe Whilst Working From Home
The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of things, including the way in which we work.

If before we were conducting our business activity from the office, now working from home has become the norm, and, interestingly enough, once the pandemic will start fading many believe that remote working will stay an important aspect across multiple industries.

Working from home could be considered convenient, having lots of benefits, but it also exposes individuals and businesses to multiple cybersecurity risks, this being one of the main reasons for which is essential to look into home cybersecurity.

Comparing the post-COVID to the pre-COVID timeframe a 33% increase in file-based malware detection was noticed, with 17:00 being the hour when researchers were able to notice the most significant percentile increase - 86% compared to pre-COVID timeframe.

Stay Safe When Working From Home

Remote working was a blessing in disguise for the attackers, allowing them to execute more successful attacks than in the past.

Phishing attacks have been prevalent in this time as, in most workplaces, the IT team is taking care of the cybersecurity needs of the employees within the office.

Having the entire workforce, in most cases, working remotely, the staff members have to pay attention to any cybersecurity threats by themselves.

You might wonder what are you supposed to be doing in order not to expose yourself to cybersecurity threats? Here are a few pointers.

Use Antivirus And Internet Security Software At Home

One of the most effective security tips for working from home is having at your disposal a comprehensive antivirus suite for you and your employees.

Online criminals are always looking for new ways to infect a system or a network. Targeting admin passwords through brute force attacks is an attractive method and there are numerous cases when the attackers managed to hack into unprotected remote desktop protocols and then manually execute the attack.

Keep Your Work Devices Secure

When using your personal computer for work purposes you are introducing numerous potential vulnerabilities into the picture as you probably have at least a few non-essential applications installed on it and that also can have been used by other users, such as family members.

The best scenario is to use the computer offered by your company, as it will most likely have already in place a security setup and also will probably have stored most of the programs and documents you need for your job. Even if using your work computer when working from home and following all the steps in order to stay safe, another challenge can be to recreate the secure environment of your office.

You should not let any other people use your work device, even if they are trusted members of your family.

Make Sure That All Data Is Encrypted

We need to stress the importance of data encryption. By making sure that you’ve turned on the built-in encryption systems of your work devices’ hard drives, you can keep your data safe if anything were to happen to your computer or phone.

Operating Systems, Programs, And Applications Must Be Up To Date

Patching and updating are a must, as attackers often rely on unpatched software and other vulnerabilities when attacking.

The Importance Of Passwords and The Two-Factor Authentication

It goes without saying, but your passwords are only the first line of defense against malicious attackers.

You should use a different and strong password for each of your accounts, and change it periodically in order to ward off any attackers trying to compromise your data.

Alongside having a strong password strategy put in place, by activating two-factor authentication on your accounts you will be able to prevent malicious third parties from accessing your data, even if they manage to compromise your password.
Your Network Remains Safe Whilst Working From Home

Change Your Home Wi-Fi’s Password and Turn ON The Encryption

The vast majority of routers come with a preset password that can be often weak and easy to guess, therefore changing your router’s password is a necessity under these circumstances.

You should make use of the routers’ ability to encrypt the traffic going through them, but unfortunately, this option is turned off by default.

You must make sure that you enable encryption, ideally WPA2, before you begin handling sensitive data on your home Wi-Fi. In order to turn on the encryption, you’ll need to know your router’s IP address to access its settings.

You are able to limit network access to specific MAC addresses for an extra layer of security. Each and every device that is connecting to your network owns a unique MAC address, that you can find by opening Command Prompt, and entering “ipconfig/all”.

If you know the addresses of any verified devices, you can add these devices to your wireless router’s settings, therefore making sure that only those devices can connect to your Wi-Fi network.

The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, also known as DHCP, server on your router which is what IP addresses are assigned to each device on a network should be turned off just as a first step into enhancing your network’s security. The DHCP server is the one automatically assigning IP addresses on your network. Once that is turned off you will be able to make use of static addresses that are suitable to your router – that is you will make use of a static address and enter your network settings manually.

Another good practice in order to increase security against any cyber threats is to close the possibility to have the router managed from a remote location via the internet. Once the remote access is closed any malicious actor will not be able to access your routers’ privacy setting unless he is physically connected to your network or he has a device connected to your wireless network. This kind of change can be done from either the “Remote Access/Administration of your router”.

Router’s Software & Firmware

In an ideal world, all routers should come with the option of having an automatic update of their firmware. This is an essential part of the router and many times has flaws that can be exploited and become major vulnerabilities. The firmware needs to be updated in order to prevent ruthless exploitation by hackers.

Since many routers don’t come with this update capability you will have to do this manually. This goes without saying but setting a reminder to check that your router’s firmware version is up to date should be on your priority list and an element in your calendar.

You always need to remind yourself about the importance of software patching and how neglecting to do this can leave open doors for cybercriminals to exploit various vulnerabilities.

Firewalls, aside from being an important part of your security suite installed on your computer, can also be a hardware firewall built inside your router, having as a great advantage the fact that it manages to add an extra layer of security. Most of the good wireless routers out there will have a firewall built in that is just ready to protect you against cybercriminals from the get-go. Sometimes you will need to activate it but that is pretty straightforward to do and the manufacturer will have readily available instructions on how to do it. If your router didn’t come with a preinstalled one, you can install a firewall device to your router, in this way protecting your system from malicious hacking attempts aimed at your home network.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) Can Keep You Safe

VPN will keep your online activity private from both online trackers but also, in most cases, from your ISP (Internet service provider).

However, if one password is compromised, hackers will get access no matter how good your VPN is. That is why it is important to have your employees change their passwords on a regular basis and with a sufficient degree of complexity.

It is important for employees to know or be taught how to configure their wireless routers and personal firewalls and keep their home network secure. This is more important now than ever when people are still carrying a significant amount of work from home.

Comprehensive security and antivirus software will also cover your VPN while working from home.

Video Conferences and Remaining Safe

People are engaging more on social media in an attempt to break the monotony of working from home, therefore it is very important to remain vigilant and keep your IT security in mind.

You should be very careful with the items you have surrounding you when taking part in a call, as the attackers might gather different hints which can be used against you in different types of malware attacks.

Be Aware Of Phishing Attempts

Hackers took advantage of the vulnerabilities that people faced since the start of the pandemic and proceeded to send out coronavirus-themed phishing attacks, attacks that may become the first step towards business email compromise.

This type of attack can happen when a malicious actor hacks into a corporate e-mail account and starts impersonating the real owner with the purpose of defrauding the company, its customers, partners, and its employees into sending money or even sensitive data to the attacker’s account.

Also known as the “man-in-the-email” attack, Business Email Compromise scams start with a large amount of research, with the attacker going through publicly available information about the company, like websites, press releases, or social media published content.

Only after he identifies the names of company executives and their official titles within the organization, the attacker will attempt to get access to e-mail addresses belonging to influential people in the company.

In order to remain undetected, he or she might use inbox rules or change the reply-to address so that when the scam is executed, the victim will not be alerted.

In Conclusion

The best way to protect and secure your network and endpoints is to exercise caution as often as possible.

You shouldn’t interact with malicious links, transfer funds to the company’s partners before confirming the authenticity of the request with your CEO, or try to bypass the firewall to access forbidden websites.

In this new paradigm that we’re all part of we should constantly remember that with the freedom gained when working remotely comes a huge responsibility as well: to maintain the security standards that would otherwise be provided for you when working from an office.

AUTHOR_NAMEAbout the Author:
Dora Tudor is a Communications and PR Officer at Heimdal Security. A content creator that is curious about technology and passionate about finding out everything there is to know about cybersecurity.
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