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Cybersecurity tips for remote workers

Young, smiling male professional working from home

At a glance

  • Remote working is more common than ever, so companies and employees need to understand better how to keep their devices safe from cyber threats.
  • Three important steps are to ensure your computer software is up to date, use strong passwords and never open links or attachments from strangers.
  • Other tips include backing up important information regularly, encrypting sensitive data and staying current on how to avoid the latest cyber threats.
  • If you’re interested in learning more about cybersecurity, University of Phoenix offers online certificates and degrees.

Today’s work-from-home culture is only likely to accelerate as technology bridges gaps between physical and virtual office spaces. As such, remote work data protection must be a foremost priority for those adapting to this way of life.

Learn how to stop cyber threats with a Cybersecurity degree.

 

How to work from home safely

With the rise in cyberattacks on remote networks, it has become increasingly important for companies to ensure that employee information remains confidential when working remotely. Encrypted communication channels and reliable password management systems are two ways to ensure this security, but it’s just the beginning.

Cybersecurity is an expanding and diverse field. Getting a degree in cybersecurity is helpful for those looking to pursue a career in the industry. For example, a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity can teach you about security policies, network security and information systems security. Skills such as these can help you prepare for opportunities within the cybersecurity field. 

While cybersecurity is an intriguing career path, it’s also something everyone can benefit from knowing a little bit about. Here, we’ll explore a few basic cyber safety tips to protect yourself online.

Keep your computer updated with the latest security patches

It is essential to keep your computer’s software, including your operating system and applications, up to date with the latest patches that secure your data against hackers. Hackers regularly search for vulnerabilities in outdated software, making it imperative to stay ahead of the game by keeping your systems patched and protected.

A study by the Institute for Internet Security at the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences Gelsenkirchen found that 95% of surveyed websites used at least one vulnerable product. It’s easy to put yourself at risk, in other words, without even realizing it. And in today’s world, keeping software updated is one of the most important steps you can take to secure yourself online.

Use strong passwords (and never reuse them!)

One common way hackers gain access to your data is through weak passwords. That’s why it’s crucial to use strong passwords that are difficult for hackers to guess.

It’s also crucial to be original with them. Reusing passwords across multiple accounts increases the risk of a breach, as using the same password means any breach on one site can be used to access other sites.

A password manager is a valuable tool for generating and storing complex passwords and improving security since they create unique and complex passwords for each account to keep your credentials secure. Before you commit to a password manager, though, make sure you do your research. It is essential to check reputable sources such as Consumer Reports, CNET or the Federal Trade Commission for advice on best practices when choosing a password manager and creating, storing and securing passwords.

Additionally, setting up two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection. This practice requires additional information, such as a code texted to your phone, after a password is entered correctly.

Don’t click on links or open attachments from unknown senders

It’s important to be cautious about clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown senders as they may contain malicious software, such as viruses, ransomware or spyware. These types of malware can infect your computer and allow attackers to access sensitive information.

One of the most common ways they do this is by sending phishing emails. These emails appear to be sent from a legitimate company or individual but contain malicious links or attachments.

To spot a phishing email, look for suspicious requests and unfamiliar senders. (Read those sender email addresses carefully! There often will be a word or letter that gives it away as unofficial.) A phishing email might ask you to provide personal information, for example, or click a link. If you receive an email that looks suspicious, do not open any attachments or click on links. Instead, delete the message immediately and report it to your IT department.

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Types of malware and how to prevent it

Encrypt sensitive data

Data encryption is the process of encoding data so only authorized parties can access it. Encryption is necessary because it prevents unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information, such as financial or health records.

Some states require businesses to encrypt certain data to protect their customers’ privacy and comply with regulations. This speaks to the security that data encryption provides organizations. Encrypted data is less vulnerable to cyberattacks because the attacker cannot access the content without the encryption key.

Back up your data regularly

It is extremely important to back up data regularly to protect it from malware attacks or other forms of loss. Backing up data using an external hard drive or cloud-based storage solutions are both effective methods for securing and storing information. (It is also beneficial to maintain more than one form of backup in case of a system failure.)

Additionally, scheduling regular backups ensures that valuable files are saved in the event of a disaster, which reduces the risk of irreversible damage or loss.

Use a VPN while working on public Wi-Fi

A virtual private network (VPN) is a security tool that protects data when you’re using public Wi-Fi. Essentially, a VPN creates an encrypted connection, so any data you send or receive online is hidden from third parties, which enhances your online privacy and security.

VPNs can also help businesses by encrypting data shared between employees who are working remotely, as they make it difficult for hackers to access important confidential information.

TechRadar and PCMag are two reputable sources on the topic of VPNs, including advice on setting up and using a VPN.

Educate yourself and others about cybersecurity risks

Educating yourself about remote work security and cybersecurity risks is critical to keep up with the ever-evolving landscape of threats. Staying current on the latest types of cyberattacks — and understanding how to spot them — is vital to staying secure.

For those looking to pursue a career in cybersecurity, it’s critical to develop the proper skill set. Earning a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or an online IT degree can give you that edge while teaching you how to help businesses protect themselves against malicious threats.

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How to prevent ransomware

Report suspicious activity

Reporting suspicious activity is critical to stopping cybercrime and protecting yourself and others from harm. Contact your local law enforcement immediately if you suspect you’ve been the victim of a cyberattack.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, there were a record number of data compromises in the United States in 2021 (a 68% increase from 2020). What’s more, 47% of Americans in 2020 experienced identity theft.

To combat this, people need to understand the importance of reporting suspicious activity or cybercrime to the proper authorities. Reporting not only helps protect both individuals and organizations at risk of attack, but also helps authorities keep track of attacks to better protect businesses and people in the long run.

Keep an eye out for insider threats

Insider threats are employees or contractors who have been granted access to an organization’s data but then use it maliciously.

To stay protected, organizations need to conduct comprehensive background checks on employees and contractors and implement additional security measures such as two-factor authentication. If businesses do not take the necessary steps to identify and address potential insider threats, they could experience substantial financial losses, reputational damage and regulatory sanctions.

Having dedicated cybersecurity experts is key to preventing insider threats, and those who specialize in cybersecurity can help organizations secure their data against malicious activities from inside their networks. Cybersecurity experts may enforce such measures as restricting privileges to a need-to-know basis and continually monitoring user activities to prevent insider threats.

By understanding how to maintain security when employees work remotely, getting educated on the latest threats, reporting suspicious activity and guarding against insider threats, businesses and their cybersecurity teams can better protect themselves.

Cybersecurity and IT education at University of Phoenix

Whether you’re seeking to gain a basic understanding of cybersecurity and other IT skills, or you’re a working professional looking to expand your knowledge, University of Phoenix offers online course collections, certificates and degrees.

  • CYB/110 Foundations of Security course — The great thing about this single course is that it aligns to a Certified Secure Computer User exam with EC-Council. Anyone who passes this class is eligible for a free exam voucher for the EC-Council Certified Secure Computer User, which is an industry certification exam. Passing the exam shows you’re a secure computer user.
  • Certified Ethical Hacker Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare to sit for the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) exam. Topics include the phases of ethical hacking, recognizing weaknesses and vulnerabilities of a system, social engineering, IoT threats, risk mitigation and more.
  • Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare to sit for the EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI) certification exam. You’ll learn about the latest technologies, tools and methodologies in digital forensics, including dark web, IoT, malware, cloud and data forensics.
  • Cybersecurity Digital Forensics Certificate — Ideal for students with a cybersecurity background, this certificate program covers methods for planning, implementing and monitoring security measures.
  • Associate of Science in Cybersecurity — The International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) and University of Phoenix teamed up to launch the Associate of Science in Cybersecurity degree and elective courses that align with three EC-Council certification exams: Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Network Defender (CND) and Certified Secure Computer User (CSCU).
  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity — This online program teaches skills such as security policies, network security, cybersecurity and more. This degree is also aligned to certifications such as CEH, CND and CSCU.
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology — Learn skills pertaining to information systems, system analysis, operations and cybersecurity.

 

 

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