Working from home and hybrid work environments (combining remote and onsite working) are the future because workers like the flexibility, they get to save on office expenses and commuting time becomes productive time. But having a workforce distributed across so many locations, on so many devices (including personal devices), creates its own set of technical issues and the most basic one is cyber security.
The fast-paced world of digital technology also means that we’re making rapid progress across many frontiers. However, with such advancements comes a rise in the scale and complexity of cyber threatsand the increase in remote working clearly called for a greater focus on cybersecurity, because of the greater exposure to cyber attacks.
A cyber attack by definition is a deliberate exploitation of one’s systems and/or network and involves the use of malicious code to compromise one’s computer, leak or hold one’s data hostage, and this peaked during the pandemic.
This is apparent, for example, from the fact that 51% of individuals got scammed while working from home. Cyber-attackers saw the pandemic as an opportunity to step up their criminal activities by exploiting the vulnerability of people working from home and capitalizing on people’s strong interest in coronavirus-related news. For example, most scammers set up fake coronavirus related websites and emails, which lured many into clicking such malicious attachments containing keyloggers hence offering their data on a silver Plata to the hackers.
Aida Bukubuza, the team leader of Aydia Technology and Gender Initiative says cyber-criminals have become more sophisticated, better equipped and bolder in their actions, making cyber security an ever-present concern for everyone.
She says there is need to strengthen our home networks, for example one can start with a strong encryption password as well as a virtual private network. A VPN will encrypt all traffic leaving your devices until it arrives at its destination. “If cybercriminals do manage to hack your communication line, they won’t intercept anything but encrypted data”. She adds.
Kate lanyero, a cybercrime-victim says in office, her workmates could edit documents and attend meetings in person, adding that in the world of remote work, the demand for videoconferencing software and collaboration tools has increased dramatically and this has also attracted interest from cybercriminals.
“Many of my us use our personal accounts on free services such as Google Docs to collaborate on documents and exchange files yet these services generally lack the centralized rights management that would enable us to protect confidential data hence getting exposed to cyber-attacks” she notes.
The work-from-home cat is out of the bag, and there’s no putting it back in so we ought to be careful because cyber security is an essential consideration in our modern digital world. With so much of our personal information available at the click of a button, there are always cyber risks to be wary of. However, by knowing about the cyber security threats and how to deal with them, you can give yourself the best chance of keeping your data safe.
I spoke to quite a number of individuals to ascertain how they have been able to keep safe despite spending over 80% of their time working online.
Draru Rose a civil servant from Arua district who was also a victim of cyber bullying says it’s important to keep one’s system and applications updated because cyber criminals often exploit vulnerabilities in software, operating systems, and web browsers to carry out their attacks. “Providers regularly patch their products to remove such vulnerabilities, so it’s essential that updates are installed” She notes. Rose adds that people should avoid clicking on links and attachments from unknown sourcesbecause cyber threats often try to mimic authentic correspondence.
Daniel Okello, a journalist and digital security trainer urges the pubic to acquire cyber security training. “Learning about how cyber threats manifest and how they are used against individuals is a key part of staying safe. By taking even basic cyber security training, you can further your knowledge about the right steps to take” he adds.
Acen Prisca, a stay home mom who also works from home says her cyber security hack is securing collaboration Apps like Microsoft Teams, Slack, WhatsApp and google-drive by ensuring that file sharing permissions are restricted within her team. “I also use a Virtual Private Network because it masks my online activities hence protecting mypasswords and other sensitive information that hackers could exploit”, she adds.
Just as you would lock your front door so you don’t get robbed, you also need to lock out malicious actors online. Also, setting up a secure remote-working environment is not an overnight job as itrequires a considerable effort from you as a person. By developing good habits such as establishing strong passwords, using multi-factor authentication and performing regular software updates among others, you can help provide the secure environment your work deserves. The measures laid out here should help you and your colleagues ease the burden and effectively protect work-from-home setups from cyberthreats.