It seems like almost overnight we all switched to working remotely, and some of us have seen massive spikes in productivity! Working from home (or your beach house in Florida) comes with great perks like flexible working location, anytime snack breaks, and regular cuddles from your pets, but did you know it can have some nasty repercussions?
Working in Public Spaces
Imagine this scenario: you’re tired of being cooped up in your home, so you decide to work from a local coffee shop (while safely social distancing, of course) that offers WiFi access. It may not seem like a dangerous endeavor, but once you leave your home’s secured network in favor of the cafe’s public-access WiFi, you make it easier for hackers to infiltrate your computer.
So what’s the big deal? Well, besides opening up whatever information is stored on your computer, you give the hackers access to anything your computer is connected to including other people’s computers and cloud storage. Think of your computer as the window to your company’s data; once the hacker is in, they could potentially grab other information from shared company accounts. Jeff Norton, Senior Vice President of Cyber & Technology at Brit Global Speciality USA, says that if an employee’s personal device is compromised, “they can provide hackers with an open door into a corporate’s network and data which can be accessed and exploited without IT even noticing.” (Insurancejournal.com)
Using Your Personal Computer
If you’re avoiding public WiFi you should be totally fine, right? Guess again. So many professionals have switched to their home devices while working remote, but your home computer might not have the same level of security as your work tech. It may feel nicer to work on a machine not bogged down by pesky software security, but the absence of these security protocols makes your desktop a cyber risk.
Make sure to ask your IT provider about working from a personal device. It may be possible for them to install secure apps or software to protect against data breaches. If you don’t have an IT company, it might be a good idea to look into getting cybersecurity. For more information on that, checkout ASNOA U’s upcoming Back to School workshop run by The Hartford.
What Else Is There?
We’ve covered public spaces and personal-device dangers, but what about office culture? Does being separated from your physical office really affect cyber liability? You bet it does. Working remotely means we are more detached from our offices and office culture, so we’re less likely run sketchy emails by our coworkers. Cyber criminals did not miss this change. They have been hard at work creating new phishing scams to capitalize on this disruption in our communication.
The best way to decrease your own risk of a cyber-security breach is by educating yourself. Reach out to your IT department and learn to identify everyday risks. All employees should participate in regular cybersecurity training, but don’t stop there. Learn the unique cyber risks associated with your position and how to avoid them.
Cybersecurity may not be the most attractive topic to learn about, but its importance is evident now more than ever. Independent agents cannot afford to be caught unaware, so invest some time into creating better cyber-security practices. This article is not intended to give specific advice on cybersecurity practices, it is purely to raise awareness of potential risks associated with working remote.