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Boosting ‘cyber resistance’ in the time of a pandemic

People across the globe are slowly adjusting their lifestyles and daily routines with the continuous spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). With most establishments remain closed, and public gatherings cancelled, people have remained indoors and been dependent on technology more than ever. From ordering food, doing groceries and even being productive for work, people spend more time on their devices more than ever.

While most companies adapting to have their employees shift to a “work from home” set-up to keep them safe from contracting the disease, they are more vulnerable to various cyber threats. Being fully aware of the current situation, cyber criminals are making their way to hijack software and devices of victims who are not vigilant against malicious scams and tricks.

Seeing the danger and lack of cyber resiliency among organizations, Ashwin Pal, Director of Cybersecurity at Unisys, a global IT solutions provider, shares several tips how one could ‘build resistance’ against the ‘cyber security threats and continue working safely from home:

1. Do not fall for scams. The COVID-19 condition has allowed cyber criminals to exploit the work from home situation of many companies and their employees. If one unexpectedly receives an e-mail from work, be conscious about the content and its attached files and links. If the email and its content is unfamiliar, ignore it and delete it. Pal reminds everyone not to be fooled by any suspicious and unfamiliar content because this will serve as the predator’s gate to access and steal your information.

2. Regularly update your device and applications. Always remember to constantly update devices, especially since employees are on their phones and laptops during working hours and beyond that. Updating software and applications will secure devices from any bugs and spam-based software. Avoid downloading applications from third-party application stores, because these fake applications can spam your whole device, including your contacts.

3. Create backups. Telecommuting has turned devices into individual’s very own office space. It is significantly important to back up all devices, so retrieving and recovering data from devices will be made simple. There is a large amount of risk involved in ignoring the option to back up devices. Devices can be backed up on a laptop, a USB, or a hard drive to automatically save your data and information.

4. Security is key. As the cyber-virus finds ways to hack into devices to steal information through the internet, workers are encouraged to use encrypted URLs to secure data and privacy. Always ensure to follow URLs with “HTTPS”. The added S means the information being sent is secure and encrypted, so that only the intended recipient – in this case, the organisation – can see it.

5. Avoid using public Wi-Fi. Working from home has become the new normal for most individuals and organizations have temporarily issued free WiFi connections to ensure employees have access to the internet. Without one knowing, online scammers can easily hack the devices of individuals connected to the public WiFi in public places.

6. Work via VPN. To safeguard devices against fraudulent activities, working via VPN is highly recommended. A VPN can protect one’s data privacy by providing a verification process that can affirm that information is being retrieved by the right person. A VPN can enable employees to send and receive information through a private network. In this case, employees are able to protect their company’s private information.

The work from home situation is definitely a whole new world compared to the office environment. Though there may be no physical communication, the web has made maintaining regular communication with colleagues easier than it seems. With access to the internet and the web, companies can avail of video conferencing for meetings, updates, and ensuring the efficiency of everybody’s work.

Self-awareness and common sense are great factors of avoiding the cyber-virus and the cyber criminals searching for their next victim. One wrong move on the internet can change everything.