Staying on Top of Cyber Hygiene

TECH | May 6, 2020

While personal hygiene is on the top of everyone’s mind these days, we can’t forget that good data security habits are more important than ever, too. With people working remotely at unprecedented levels, our data is vulnerable in ways that we normally don’t think about. Allowing company systems to be accessed remotely really increases the risk of a cybersecurity incident.

So, what can you do to help keep your data immune from cyber intrusion? Consider these tips to keep your cyber hygiene strong.

Secure those networks

Connected devices may be vulnerable to unwanted access through an unsecured wireless router. To be prepared, make sure that your home WiFi network has a strong password that you update regularly. Also verify that any devices containing sensitive data aren’t unknowingly connecting to unsecure public networks and if you must use a public network, try not to use a computer or device that contains sensitive information. And when you connect to your company system, make sure you do it securely — preferably via VPN.

Lock it down

Any device you use is only as good as the security software that’s on it. Your computers should be current on all software updates and have a strong antivirus program. It’s good cyber hygiene to keep your devices password protected. If you have to carry confidential information, only store it on devices that have an encrypted hard drive. And be sure to take extra precautions when you take your devices with you — it’s easy to lose track of your stuff when traveling. (It may be tempting to leave your laptop in your locked car when you run in to Starbucks, but it’s not worth the risk!)

Avoid cross-contamination

As simple as it sounds, keeping your work data separate from your personal data is one easy step you can take in terms of cyber hygiene. Do your work on your employer-issued computer and take care not to send sensitive information from your work email to your personal email. (Personal email accounts often don’t have the robust protections that commercial accounts do.) A couple other helpful tricks: Don’t use your personal cloud storage to transfer work data and take a minute to make sure your work files aren’t automatically syncing to your personal cloud.

Check your calls

Video conference calls are all the rage these days. Seeing your colleagues can help you stay connected, but some of these services may not be secure. Even worse, some may be recording your conversations or keeping transcripts of chats without your knowledge! Try to only use services from reputable companies with advanced security features and the specific capabilities you need.

Flatten the scam curve

Criminals often tailor their phishing attempts to world events, and COVID-19 (coronavirus) scams are quickly popping up. Cybercriminals are targeting at-home workers with fake coronavirus-related notices and even requests for charitable contributions that appear to be from inside their own company. Some have resorted to faking emails from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO) to get access to company networks. Be wary of any emails, texts or phone calls asking for sensitive information or money. Don’t click links in emails or open attachments unless you are certain they are from a legitimate source. And always check with your IT department if you receive anything suspicious!

These tips and tricks can go a long way to keeping your data safe in these difficult times — and any time. And while you’re keeping an eye on data security and practicing better cyber hygiene, know that PartnerComm is always here to offer you our support.

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