Cybersecurity tips for avoiding malware while working from home

It’s important to think carefully about changing your habits to work from home in a way that’s productive, collaborative and, perhaps most importantly, secure.

You should avoid mixing your personal life with business applications on any of your devices.

Hackers are interested in exploiting new vulnerabilities as employees disperse. A March 2020 survey of the CNBC Technology Council found that 36% of respondents at that time already saw an increase in cyberthreats as employees transitioned to remote work.

Since cybersecurity issues change daily, it’s important to always stay on your guard against potential security issues, including malware. This is the best way to keep yourself safe.

Look out for COVID-19 scams

Phishing attacks and phony apps may exploit current crises as part of their social engineering techniques. In order to influence you to download malware from an attachment or click through to a website where you could be subjected to a drive-by attack, hackers may try to trick you into thinking you’ve received a critical communication about public health.

Look out for suspicious links in emails, especially if they’re sent from an unknown address or if it seems out of character for the sender. If you’re uncertain, don’t click the link. Flag it with your security team for review or simply delete it.

Adhere to company security policies

Your employer likely has a very specific set of regulations governing work-from-home policies, including cybersecurity measures. If you’re unclear about any of the guidelines, ask for help. It’s better to resolve the issue now than leave your system vulnerable to infiltration.

Your company may have a mandated antivirus application. Make sure that it’s installed correctly on your machine. It should be set up to scan your system frequently and update automatically or according to your employer’s desired schedule. Keep tabs on whether it noticeably slows down your device’s performance, though.

Keep your home wireless network secure

Once you’re out of the office, you lose access to the company’s secure on-site network. There are several steps you can take to make sure your home Wi-Fi network is more secure.

First of all, make sure your network uses the Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) or WPA3 protocol, not the outdated Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) standard.

Secondly, you should verify that your home network is set up using a secure password. If you haven’t already done so, update it from the default password, and make sure to use something that is hard to crack. It should have a mixture of capital and lowercase letters, as well as numerals and special characters. The password should not include complete words or something that’s easy to guess based on your personal information, like your date of birth or wedding anniversary.

Use a virtual private network

If possible, you should consider setting up separate wireless networks through your home router. You can reduce risk to your work devices by keeping them logged onto a separate network from the one used for personal devices in your household.

As with antivirus software, your employer may mandate the use of a virtual private network (VPN) for work-related activity. If so, use their preferred VPN, and make sure it’s enabled while you’re working. A VPN can also provide added security if you do have to use public Wi-Fi temporarily for any reason.

Keep your personal life off your work machine

While you’re working from home, you may be tempted to work on your personal computer or to use your work equipment for personal activities, like checking your social media accounts and streaming TV. However, as much as you can, you should avoid mixing your personal life with business applications on any of your devices.

Looking for more advice about how to stay secure while working remotely? Find out how Total Defense can help today.