This transition from physical work to remote work in the last 18 or so months has been unprecedented. While that is a win for people who argue that remote work is a lot more practical for the modern and interconnected world, it also means increased cyber security challenges. The popularity of virtual work arrangements and reliable virtual learning platforms now means that millions of people are now working remotely, and may not have the comprehensive cybersecurity measures that working in an office provides.
This threat isn't negligible either. Every day, thousands of people fall prey to internet fraudsters or hackers who are constantly looking for ways to steal personal information for nefarious ends. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, people lost hundreds of millions of dollars from scams initiated through the web in 2015. The number has only continued to rise since then. That's why you need to learn how to stay cyber safe, even when working from home.
Here are some tips that will not only help you keep your personal information safe, but will also allow you to have greater control over your cyber security infrastructure.
If you're like most people, you probably ignore all the automated alerts and warnings to keep your devices up to date. While ignoring an update may save you time in the short run, it could also be the reason why you get attacked and lose a lot of data. The reason is simple. These updates usually contain additional information that keeps you safe from hackers and fraudsters who are looking to gain control of your device.
This is even more true for security software that has to be updated often because of the security patches they come with. These security patches are essentially extra-strong band-aids that scan the security infrastructure of the device and block any potential entry for hackers. To make sure you're always equipped with the most recent software updates, make sure to put on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
This may sound juvenile, but it isn't. Seriously, stop securing your devices with generic passwords like 1234, or 0000, or something even on the nose like Password. You may think hackers wouldn't be able to guess your password, but the truth is that some passwords are more obvious than others. And passwords like your birthday and that of your spouse sit right at the top of that list.
If you're interested in giving hackers a really easy time at hacking into your networks, set weak passwords. But if you are not, try to come up with the most random password you can, and try to mix it up with numbers and special characters.
In 2021 alone, companies and individuals have lost more than three million dollars to phishing scams. Phishing scams, if you haven't heard of them, are email scams carried out through the use of fraudulent emails and websites.
A phishing email masquerades as an email from a reputable source, whose entire purpose is to get you to click on a link that takes you to a fake website. When you get to the website, you're asked to provide personal information like your credit card info or password. Fraudulent entities then use that information to either rob you, blackmail you, or hack your accounts.
The best way to stay safe from phishing scams is to not click on links or attachments that you suspect come from sketchy sources. If you suspect that an email is a phishing mail (one sure way to notice them is their characteristically bad grammar, strange requests, and misspelled email addresses), forward them to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at email@example.com – and the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.
Even before the pandemic, a lot of people had migrated from visiting physical stores to shopping online. While this provided a new level of ease, it also provided a new avenue for hackers to get your personal information and sell it on the dark web. These hackers accomplish this by hacking insecure sites and stealing whatever credit card information you offer up.
The only way to stop this from happening is to make sure whatever website you're shopping from makes use of secure technology. When you get to the checkout screen, make sure that the web address begins with HTTPS. You also need to check for a tiny padlock symbol that signifies that the site is safe. If you checked for this and can't see it, leave the page immediately.
The magic of social media is amazing. Over the last 15 or so years, the widening social media network has made it easier for us to connect and make friends with people from all over the world. However, it has also been rather useful as a signboard for criminal elements looking for potential victims.
That's why you need to be mindful of what information you share on the internet. For example, telling people that you're on a vacation may be a sign for burglars to invade your home. Cybercriminals may even get clues about how to hack your accounts and even steal your identity from what you post. That's why it's always important to go over what information you make available to the world with a fine-tooth comb.
If you don't have basic cyber security knowledge and suspect that you might be a target for hackers and fraudsters, then you need to take a basic course in the subject. It won't take too much of your time to learn the fundamentals of cyber security, and just that fundamental knowledge will put you ten steps ahead of any criminal trying to hack into your systems.