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How Can Home-workers Ensure Cyber-security During COVID-19 (and Beyond)?

COVID-19 – a pandemic that has dramatically altered the corporate landscape. As the pandemic continues in full swing and shows no signs of abating in the near future, companies across the world are taking various steps to protect their human capital and ensure business continuity; one of the most widely-implemented measures initiated by organizations to combat the effects of COVID-19 is allowing their employees to work from their homes.

A Work-from-Home (WFH) policy helps personnel of companies work from the safety and convenience of their homes, considerably minimizing the risk of getting infected by the COVID-19 virus. But, it is also creating a serious problem – ensuring the safety and security of data. Cyber criminals are targeting the computers of many people working from home, and this is a cause for grave concern.

In this article, we’ll examine why cyber-criminals are attacking employees working from their homes. We’ll also see how we can protect ourselves from the nefarious designs of these malevolent people.

Why are cyber-criminals targeting people working from home?

Cyber-attacks are not a new phenomenon. For years, companies have invested billions of dollars to build secure networks to protect their data from falling into wrong hands. They’ve erected ultra-strong firewalls and use impenetrable Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to connect with the wider world. Network administrators of business organizations constantly monitor the performance of firewalls and VPNs and take various measures to ensure data safety. These initiatives go a long way in foiling the designs of cyber-criminals.

But, things are very different when it comes to computers of individual employees. The robust security measures that protect the data in the servers of companies are not (and cannot be) implemented by the employees. This allows cyber-criminals to target computers of the employees with relative ease.

How can people working from their homes avoid falling prey to cyber-crimes?

They need to focus on the following aspects to thwart the attempts of cyber criminals and ensure the safety of their data.

Secure your passwords

It is well-said passwords must be treated like toothbrushes. Don’t share them with anyone and change them frequently. Given below is a list of best practices to ensure your passwords can’t be cracked.

  • The password must be hard enough to guess, yet you should be able to remember it. A good way to do this is use the first letters of a line of your favorite song and include numerals or special characters. For instance, you can use the line Do you know the way to San Jose? from the song of the same name and create a password – DYKtwTSJ.

  • Add a combination of numeric and special characters to text to make life more difficult for cyber-criminals. Staying on with the Do you know the way to San Jose? example, you can add the characters 2020%& to DYKtwTSJ to create a near unbreakable password — DYKtwTSJ2020%&. Remember, the longer and more complex your passwords, the more secure they are. Make sure to create a password of at least 12 characters.

  • NEVER write passwords on a piece of paper or store them on your computer. There is every chance they’ll fall into wrong hands.

  • Don’t use characters from the usernames used for logging into online applications and your name in the passwords.

  • Avoid using names of sports such as baseball, hockey, soccer etc. in your passwords as they can be easily cracked. They’ll make the job of cyber-criminals very easy.