How to Avoid a Cyberattack While Working From Home

NBC Universal, Inc.

Cybersecurity experts have a warning amid the COVID-19 outbreak: your personal and professional information is at a greater risk than usual.

As people struggle with the impact of the pandemic, they are also adjusting to a new reality of working from home. Tech experts believe this is a prime time for hackers, scammers and other cybercriminals to make a move.

“I think you should be thinking about it more than when you’re in the office,” said Jon Stone, chief technology officer at Kelser Corporation in Glastonbury.

Stone said people should reexamine their new work-at-home environments to figure out if they are as secure as they should be.

  “You should have extra thought about how you share information back and forth with your coworkers,” Stone said. “No taking shortcuts and having someone email proprietary information to your personal home email address.”

Stone recommends making sure your home router has the latest version of software. You can check with your service provider for help with that. He also recommends the use of password protectors.

You may also consider adjusting the network settings on your Google Home or Alexa device, or at least move it away from where you are working and talking to coworkers.

 “Keep those things on a guest network,” said Stone. “That keeps them away from the network that you work PC or laptop is on.”

Stone also emphasized the importance of keeping your corporate data separate from your personal environment.

Phishing email campaigns are also some of the many things that law enforcement officials are concerned about.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong warned that cybercriminals are after anything and everything right now.

“Social security numbers, telephone numbers, biometric information about ourselves and our families, credit card numbers, job information – so that’s especially true now when we’ve got this public health emergency,” said Tong.

 “We’re all at risk and know that and be careful,” he added. “You’ve got to keep your guard up and protect yourself and your family.”

Cybersecurity experts from Kelser Corporation also offer these tips:

  • You may be safer from coronavirus/COVID-19 at home, but company data likely is not. It's important not to save sensitive information to a personal PC
  • Be careful not to email sensitive info that you normally wouldn't transmit via email. If you have to email a sensitive file, delete the email afterward in case your account ever becomes compromised
  • If a coworker asks you to email something sensitive, call them to double check the request is real (always a good idea, but especially important with a remote team)
  • See if your company has a VoIP system or a way to make and receive calls from your work number at your home office
  • Google how to log in to your router and change the password (if you have never changed it, it's probably "admin", which leaves your home network vulnerable)
  • Those transmitting sensitive data on a regular basis (such as physicians doing telehealth from home) may need to consider routers and gateways such as Meraki Z series that can strengthen your home network and speed it up
  • This crisis is a prime opportunity for getting phished – there’s lots of fear and uncertainty and other emotions that the fraudsters are expert at capitalizing on
  • Use of guest-WiFi to keep devices and visitors off of the network where your work laptop is located
  • Don’t forget secure handling of paper documents. Consider using a paper shredder.

If you believe your personal or professional data has been breached or if you have a COVID-19 consumer-related problem, contact NBC Connecticut Responds at 844-303-RESP or submit your story by clicking here.

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