With most people having worked from home since mid-March in response to the COVID-19 outbreak around the world, hackers and cybercriminals have been having a field day with all the new opportunities to expose data leaks, shared passwords, and a lack of security protocol being practiced.
Working from home might be more convenient for employees who are practicing social distancing to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, but when they do not use best practices to do that work, they cause huge problems not only for themselves but also for the companies they work for.
Home vs. The Office
The biggest problem most work-from-home employees have is that their personal computers do not have nearly as much antivirus firepower as the typical company or corporate office does. Corporations usually have their own IT department, firewalls, and advanced antimalware in place to minimize the threat of attacks.
About 50% of people in the US do not use antivirus software at home, and that number is replicated in most industrialized countries around the world. That is a nightmarish number if you’re a company letting people work from home and Christmas come early if you’re a cybercriminal looking to exploit vulnerabilities. Make sure you invest in a top-flight antivirus software like Norton to protect your company secrets when you’re not in the office.
All over the world, people are looking for information about the spread of the coronavirus, when they can resume normal activities, and if they are going to receive money from their respective governments to help them out during this time of crisis.
Hackers are all too aware of these situations and use it to their advantage, sending emails, texts, and social media messages to people that make it appear they are from a government agency. When people click on the links or the emails, they are often taken to phishing websites where malware is injected onto their devices.
Your normal filters for what sort of messages are legitimate and which are not can be lowered by the need for information about the virus. Always make sure you check the validity of any email or link before you click on it.
Stop Sharing Everything!
In the office environment, people are trained and retrained not to share passwords, user IDs, and the like when using online resources and accessing programs and databases. With everyone working from home, many people relax that mandate as they are not in their normal work station, don’t have their normal bookmarks in place, and need help getting situated to perform their daily tasks.
This can lead to lots of shared credentials being used and being shared across extremely insecure pathways such as inside personal emails, texts, Zoom, Skype, and other video services, as well as through instant messenger apps. All it takes is one piece of spyware on your computer or one unsecure network to give cybercriminals access to everything you are sending via email, text, or instant messenger.
Exploits in Zoom, Facetime, and Skype exist and can be exploited if you don’t have proper protection for your setup. Your company’s IT department can make recommendations, but if employees don’t follow them to the tee and have their own protection in place, bad things are going to happen.