By now, most have already adapted to the new normal and made working from home a habit. But just because someone is able to fulfill work-related demands and deliver on time doesn’t mean that they are equipped with the knowledge necessary to keep themselves (and everyone involved) from the vast landscape of cyber threats.

As a result, many cybercriminals have recognized the opportunity to strike. Do you have what it takes to recognize the dangers that await? And more importantly, can you ward them off?

At any rate, be sure to mount the necessary defenses by keeping the following in mind:

1. Improve your home network’s security

For starters, you should make sure that your home’s Wi-Fi meets modern cybersecurity standards. Ask yourself this:

  • Is it encrypted?
  • Have you changed the default password?
  • Is the password you’ve chosen complex enough?

In case any of this is still not ticked off your list, now is the time to fix it. After all, this is your central base of operations, and its security has a direct or indirect effect on everything you do.

2. Recognize phishing scams

If you let a skilled manipulator convince you to hand over your login credentials on your own free will, no cybersecurity measure will be able to protect you from yourself. That might sound harsh, but it’s the truth.

In essence, a phishing scam involves the perpetrator initiating contact with you via email or another messaging channel. From there on, you will notice two distinct elements to it: a sense of urgency and the person claiming to be a figure of authority (such as an administrator or your boss). You will be asked to either hand over your personal data directly or be offered a link to login to one of your accounts “to resolve a pressing matter” or something similar.

As soon as you do that, they’ve conned you. The link you’ve received does not lead to a real login form but to a masterfully-crafted decoy that harvests anything you send through it. Even if it appears to belong to a reputable website, do not be blinded—it is likely a forgery. So it’s important to never click on any links you receive via email.

If you want to learn more about how phishing works, you can check out this post we wrote a while ago. It answers some of the most frequently asked questions about phishing. 

3. Install an antivirus

Never rely on antivirus software to save you, as it’s not foolproof. However, it does make a world of difference when it comes to your overall security. In other words, even if you’ve managed to download an infected file or got infected through other means, it will save you from disaster. At the same time, you will also be able to scan any files you send out to your coworkers to make sure you are not spreading a malware infection without being the wiser.

In case you’re not a fan of doing manual scans (if nothing else, it occupies your mental real estate and takes away from your focus), most modern antivirus suites allow you to set automatic scans. These can be daily, weekly, monthly, or triggered however often you like. Furthermore, most modern antivirus scanners have the capacity to detect infected files automatically because they scan your downloads.

4. Enable 2FA

Two-factor authentication (or 2FA for short) introduces another layer of security to shield your accounts. If it’s enabled, your password will not suffice when logging in to your account; you will also be asked to input an extra code, which is generated on the spot and usually consists of numbers. This will get sent to your phone.

While some might argue it makes things inconvenient, the tradeoff is more than worth it. Imagine how hard it would be for someone to steal your password and attain physical access to your phone at the same time? Even so, make sure your passwords are complex and strong.

5. VPN

Using a VPN is standard practice when accessing the company’s network from a remote location. So what is a VPN? In a nutshell, it’s the kind of solution that encrypts all bits and pieces of data you send from your device. So even if someone is trying to listen in on your connection, they won’t be able to decipher a thing.

By turning on your VPN, you will keep your chats private and your data safe. This is especially important if you are using public Wi-Fi, your friend’s, or coworker’s home connection. After all, you never know what might be going on behind the scenes, as you are not the network’s administrator. For all you know, it could be misconfigured or compromised. 

Final Thoughts

Apart from what we’ve discussed above, much of your online security when working from home boils down to common sense—your strongest line of defense. So be on alert, and may you remain productive in these trying times.