Tips to protect yourself against cybercrime when working from home

Many people have been working from home since the National Lockdown was announced, and extended, in South Africa. At the same time, cyber criminals have also been hard at work. Targeted phishing scams, disinformation campaigns and disruptive cyberattacks have been common. These scams are designed to steal information and create panic, worsening the economic and social impact of the virus. So, if you’re also working from home, it’s important to keep cyber security in mind. This means protecting your devices and data, just like you would in the workplace.

Here’s 10 tips for anyone working at home to keep themselves and their computers safe

  1. Be aware of any suspicious emails or any other unusual electronic activity that may come across your screens, phones and emails. Do not click on any unfamiliar or suspicious links, or comply with requests for sensitive/private information, unless you are 100% sure you can trust the source.

  2. Be aware of disinformation campaigns and hoaxes, particularly on social media.  These campaigns can cause confusion, increase public panic, and lead people to overreact or underreact to the virus.

  3. Make sure your password for each critical site is strong and unique. Check the policy on password managers and use one if allowed.

  4. Use Multi-Factor Authentication wherever possible. This means combining your username and password with something that you own, such as a One Time Password app on your phone.

  5. Don’t fall for "credential phishing" attacks, where scammers trick you into handing over your username and passwords. The best thing to do is to never click on links asking you to update details. Rather bookmark the sites you frequently visit or type them manually into the browser.

  6. Apply all basic security features. Keep your operating system, plug-ins and anti-virus software up to date and apply security patches when necessary.

  7. Secure your home Wi-Fi Network. There are two basic must-dos to set this up securely: Change your default router password and change the password for your Wi-Fi network.

  8. Keep your home environment safe and ensure nobody is allowed to access your work computer, including your family and kids, if you are working with sensitive information. Others could unintentionally download malicious software or access files they shouldn’t see.

  9. Use a virtual private network (VPN) which provides a secure tunnel for all your internet traffic, preventing criminals from intercepting your data.
  10. Read your policies. They are there to keep you, the company and its data, safe. In turn, this allows you to work in the comfort of your PJs and slippers.

Remember, during this highly challenging time, you are your company’s strongest line of defense. Remain super vigilant.  

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