COVID-19: How to secure your home network for remote working.
As the world moves to work from home, there has been a spike in cyber attacks.
How safe is your home network? With millions of workers shifting to a remote working set up, how can you make sure that your home network is safe from hackers and online criminals?
Shah Sheikh, our co-founder & sr. cybersecurity consultant at DTS Solution, spoke to Gulf News about how employees can take simple steps to secure their networks while working from home.
“You are using home internet instead of a corporate one – it does not have the security controls that you would expect at the office. Employees connecting from home are more likely to be attacked, breached or hacked when they connecting into the employer’s network,” he added.
So, if this is your first time working from home and you are unaware of how you can protect your remote connection from hackers, these are some basic tips that you can follow.
Tip#1: Use strong passwords for your accounts
One of the top tips provided by UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to employees working from home was to set strong passwords.
“Weak passwords are the easiest way for hackers to get through your system through brute forcing,” Sheikh said.
A brute-force attack involves hackers using a massive database of common passwords, and a weak password can be cracked within seconds.
Tip#2: Opt for multi-factor authentication
Even if you have a strong password, there is a chance that it can still be hacked. This is where multi-factor authentication comes into play.
“Two-factor authentication (2FA) and two-step verification (2SV) involve an additional step to add an extra layer of protection to your accounts. The extra step could be an email or text message (OTP) confirmation or a biometric method such as facial recognition or a fingerprint scan,” Sheikh said.
Tip#3: Keep your systems updated
It is also important to download the latest updates of your system software as well as the apps you may be using for video conferencing.
Often, software updates are developed to address security issues and may new security features that protect your data and device.
Tip#4: Look out for COVID-19 themed scams
As the new coronavirus spread turned into a pandemic, cyber criminals also increased their activities, taking advantage of people’s fears and vulnerabilities.
Palo Alto Networks, a US-based cybersecurity company, identified 116,357 newly registered domains with coronavirus-related names between January 1 and March 31, 2020. Out of these, 2,022 were classified as ‘malicious’ and more than 40,000 were considered ‘high-risk’. Additionally, from February 1 to March 31, the company said that it witnessed a 569 per cent growth in malicious domain registrations.
Tip#5: Secure your router
While this may seem to be a technical exercise, by following basic steps you can make sure your router is secured.
Depending on whether you have bought the router from a service provider like Etisalat or du or from an electronics shop, you would be given the IP address, username and password.
The first thing to do would be to set up a unique username and password.
Secondly, under settings, the router allows you to select a certain ‘security mode’. This is the algorithm you want to use to encrypt the data flowing through the router.
Tip#6: Lock your devices when not in use
It is much easier to access your information if other people have access to your devices. Do not leave your device unattended and lock your computer when not in use, even if it's only for a short period of time.
It is also important to not allow other members of the family use the same device. If your child plays online games on your work laptop, it is going to make the device more vulnerable to attacks. If it is not possible to have separate devices, try to set up separate accounts which each member uses to log in.
Tip#7: Avoid using ‘Admin’ account
The profile or account that you use in general should be separate from the administrator’s account, which has complete control to make changes to the laptop’s settings and to download external content. If by any chance a hacker is able to breach your system and has complete admin access.
Tip#8: Avoid using portable storage devices
When transporting work from your office to your home, always opt for cloud storage systems as portable storage devices like USB drives and cards are easily misplaced. If they fall in the wrong hands, they can harm your computer systems with malware.
If you do have to use portable storage devices, make sure they are password protected.
Tip#9: Educate yourself online or ask security experts for help
Over and above all these tips, it is essential that you educate yourself about basic online security and if you need advice, reach out to your company’s IT support desk to know how you can secure your home network.
To read the full interview published on gulfnews.com, please click here.