Working From Home? Don’t Let Cyber Criminals Break In
As companies around the world operate on a recommended work-from-home basis, or with their offices closed entirely, most organizations have more people working at home than at any time in their histories. People with limited to no work-from-home experience are learning new ways to stay productive, informed and connected with colleagues and clients. Unfortunately, cyber criminals are also hard at work, finding new ways to specifically target and exploit our desire to stay connected and informed about the COVID-19 pandemic. Insurance companies, like other financial services companies, are being especially targeted.
As news of the pandemic began to spread, cyber criminals immediately began flooding in-boxes with phishing and ransomware, as well as developing other methods to steal from and damage companies. The work-from-home situation means IT departments are under pressure to urgently relax restrictions and add capabilities without security due diligence. However, now more than ever, cyber security should be a high priority for the company and, most importantly, for every one of us working at home.
Here are some things to consider as you work from home:
This continues to be the most heavily used path of attack, with authentic looking emails coming from a variety of fake sources, such as the World Health Organization, Medicare and Medicaid, and the CDC to name a few. Employees need to be vigilant and skeptical, even more so than usual.
At the company level, you should by now have conducted a phishing test related to COVID-19 and reacted accordingly, with targeted follow up for “clickers.” Also, if you don’t already have an obvious banner or flag identifying emails as external to your company, then now is the time to implement it.
Use of Multi-Factor Authorization (MFA) is an essential security feature for connecting to the corporate network from home/remote locations. Each company will have its own standard for frequency of MFA and duration of each VPN session (a virtual private network), but requiring MFA for every new login is a highly recommended practice.
It is highly advised that you change the default password on your wireless network, turn on WPA2 protection and firewall (if the service has this) and enable “Do Not Broadcast.”
Minimize the use of public WiFi for company business. If users must use it, they really must use VPN and avoid using any websites that require you to login. It is best that you do not step away from your machine, but if you must, even for a second, lock it.
Fraudulent phone calls and text messages are exploding due to the increase in the government establishing programs (e.g., stimulus checks) and the technical support individuals need while working at home. Best practice is to exercise caution by assuming inbound calls and messages could be malicious. Users wishing to contact official government agencies and technical support should use official channels in making outbound calls or writing emails.
Zoom, Webex, Go-To Meeting, Teams and similar products are being used extensively. It is important to think about the nature of what is being shared and act accordingly. If sharing confidential or private information, be sure to include a meeting password or PIN, require all participants to be identified, and use the feature to lock the meeting once they are identified.
Everyone must use extra caution in checking the provenance of websites. Experts estimate that 5% of the more than 4,000 coronavirus domains that have been set up are suspicious.
- Type in addresses of sites you wish to visit into the browser rather than use links from unknown sources.
- Look for “https” and a lock icon in the address bar to ensure connections are secure.
- Do not download any software from the Internet onto a company device without prior communication and authorization of your IT team. You should be very careful doing the same on your own devices.
Most organizations offer the use of company laptops for their employees to work from home. Your IT team will be keeping these up-to-date to ensure they can detect unauthorized installation or use. However, it is important to logoff and close down each day, restarting in the morning. This allows essential updates to be installed.
You should practice good security at home by keeping your operating system and software fully up to date, using industry-leading anti-virus software, using a password for the device (and change it periodically) and avoid downloading software of unknown provenance onto the device.
Printing at Home
Many organizations will prohibit connecting a company device to a home printer due to the inability to control the source and nature of the drivers installed or the security of the printer. Exceptions are now necessary, but you need to ensure you only install the driver from the software manufacturer, if needed. Using a USB-connected printer is more secure than connecting over WiFi.
It is up to all of us to ensure that our organizations stay free from major security incidents during this difficult period. If you see something suspicious in your email, or just aren’t sure, don’t click, reach out to your IT team instead. By remaining vigilant, we can defend ourselves and our companies from cyber criminals looking to steal information - wherever we are.