Millions of employees are now working remotely from their homes, which exposes them to many serious threats they didn’t have to worry about when they were behind their organization’s firewall. To remain secure and productive at home, remote workers must follow essential network security practices in addition to organizational security policies.
1. Encrypt Wi-Fi Traffic
Wi-Fi networks are not always secure because there are multiple Wi-Fi encryption standards, and some of them don’t provide too much extra security when compared with unencrypted networks. The best option for employees working remotely from their homes is an encryption standard called Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2).
The good news is that virtually all modern routers support WPA2, but some don’t enable it by default. When setting up WPA2, it’s important to choose a strong, unique Wi-Fi password that cybercriminals won’t be able to guess. Security experts recommend either a random string of letters, numbers, and special characters or a long passphrase.
In addition to creating a safe password for the Wi-Fi networks, it’s highly recommended to change the default administrator password (typically “admin” or “password”) to something less obvious. Remote administrator access to the router should be disabled to prevent attackers from changing the router’s configuration.
2. Update Connected Devices Regularly
One study carried out by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Communication (FKIE) found that many popular home routers go unpatched for more than a year, which gives attackers plenty of time to exploit them. When a router firmware update is finally released, it should be installed as soon as possible, and the same goes for other devices connected to the network.
Smart home devices, such as security cameras, thermostats, and light bulbs, are especially dangerous because their manufacturers often don’t consider security to be one of their priorities. In the first six months of 2019, Kaspersky Lab detected over 100 million attacks on smart home devices, and the number is expected to grow at a rapid pace as the Internet of Things becomes embedded in everyday life.
Timely patching can go a long way in preventing attackers from taking advantage of vulnerable smart home devices, but the sad reality is that some vendors don’t release patches for their devices. That’s why it’s a good idea to treat all smart home devices as potentially insecure and limit their access to the public internet.
3. Use an Anti-Malware Software
Even with devices hidden behind a firewall, there are still many ways for malware to infiltrate a home network and wreak havoc. That’s why employees who are working remotely from their homes should protect themselves using multiple security layers, including specialized anti-malware software capable of detecting the latest strains of malware in real-time and preventing them from spreading uncontrollably.
A good anti-malware solution should include robust ransomware and phishing protection, which are the two biggest cyber threats today. That’s not to say that traditional antivirus solutions are completely obsolete, but they’re unable to deliver the comprehensive protection required by today’s threat landscape.
Remote workers should also learn how to recognize common phishing scams, which are used by cybercriminals to obtain sensitive information, take over privileged accounts, and distribute malware. The so-called spear phishing is especially dangerous because it’s targeted toward a specific individual, making it difficult to recognize.
With millions of employees thrown into remote working arrangements, home network security has quickly become even more important topic than it was before the outbreak of COVID-19. While it’s not reasonable to expect the average employee to do the job of a professional network administrator, there are many things any non-tech savvy person can do to keep cybercriminals at bay.