The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, continues to ravage the global population. Most of the world is into their second, third, and even fourth waves, experiencing record infection rates every 24 hours. To date, according to the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, there are more than 82 million infections and just under 1.793 million deaths caused by COVID-19.
Consequently, to reduce the virus’s spread, most of the world’s communities were ordered to social distance from each other, stay at home, and only leave to shop for essential items or seek medical attention. Businesses models changed and so did the working environment. They pivoted their business processes from an in-office model to a remote work-from-home model, that caused some disruptions like the transfer of all the office furniture.
While this virus was first seen in Wuhan, China, precisely one year ago, there was an expectation that once the first wave was over, people would be able to return to normal or the pre-COVID-19 era. This has not happened. People are still required to social distance and wear masks in a desperate attempt to stop or control the coronavirus’s rampant spread. As a result, employees are still working remotely from home. For instance, the Google CEO has formally delayed the company’s employees’ return to the office. They can work from home until 1 September 2021.
One of the challenges that the world currently faces is an increase in the number of hacking attacks on remote workers or people working from home. Statistics quoted by the guardian.com show that the “proportion of attacks targeting home workers increased from 12% of malicious email traffic before the UK’s lockdown began in March to more than 60% six weeks later.”
These attacks have not abated and will more than likely keep on increasing. A expert in IT Support Sydney states that the only solution to this continuing challenge is to implement the latest cybersecurity best practices to protect you and your data from being hacked.
By way of answering this question, let’s look at 5 top cybersecurity tips.
- Encrypt all of your virtual communications
The challenge is that online browsing using an unencrypted connection leaves your IP address and other online activity exposed to being hacked or stolen by hackers and other malicious parties.
The consequences of this can be dire. There is no best-case scenario, but in a worst-case scenario, your social security number and credit card details can be stolen, sold on the dark web, and used to purchase items and pay for services. The good news is that there is a solution.
Enter the VPN router. It is specially designed so you can set up a home VPN over your router, protecting your WIFI network at the source or entry point to your home network. The VPN, or Virtual Private Network, creates a private tunnel between your router and the public Internet; thereby, giving you online privacy and anonymity.
- Use a privacy-friendly browser
The web browser has become one of the most commonly used software applications. It is the most widely used software application globally. 2019 statistics reported that more than 4 billion users worldwide use a web browser to access the Internet. Further statistics show that 63.7% of browser users use Chrome for browsing the World Wide Web. Apple’s Safari is second at 16.3%, and Firefox is in third place at 4.5%.
The challenge with web browsers is that they are not necessarily privacy-friendly and collect user data. This is not ideal because it opens the door to data theft. Therefore, the only solution is to install and use a browser that prioritizes online privacy and security. It is interesting to note that, even though Chrome is the world’s most popular web browser, it is not the most private or secure. The best browser for privacy is actually Firefox. Therefore, it is a good idea to install and use Firefox as your primary web browser app.
- Use a password manager
Creating and remembering a unique, strong password for every online account can be challenging for anyone. Consequently, we tend to create weak passwords and use the same password for multiple online accounts. This becomes a problem because hackers are good at developing new tools to crack passwords. For example, suppose you use the same password for your email account. For example, if you use the same password for your email account, online banking, and several other sensitive accounts and your email password is hacked, not only can your email account be used to spread malicious files, but you run the risk of having your credit card details stolen.
Clearly, this is not a tenable scenario, but it has a solution. Use a password manager to store and manage all of your passwords. Not only are all of your passwords securely stored, but you only need to remember one password, the master password.
- Only access HTTPS websites
The primary communication protocol between web clients and servers is HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Succinctly stated, a client computer or web browser sends an HTTP request to a web server, and the response is received by an HTTP response. The challenge with this mechanism is that it is not secure. Consequently, all requests and responses or communications between the web client and server are vulnerable to exposure.
The good news is that there is a solution.
Enter HTTPS or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.
This protocol is essentially the secure version of HTTP, securing all communications between the web client and server. Thus, it is essential to make sure that you only access HTTPS websites and not HTTP websites.
- Don’t use unsecured, public WIFI hotspots
Public WIFI hotspots are available in many places, including restaurants, coffee shops, airports, hotels, and train stations. However, because they are public, they are also unsecured, making it easy for hackers to use sniffer-type apps and spy tools to steal your private data. Also, your confidential data is exposed to the WIFI provider. This is not a good idea. Therefore, it is wise to protect your personal information when using an unsecured hotspot by installing a VPN.
The world has moved into a new era where remote work is the order of the day. How long this period will last is mainly dependent on the SARS-CoV-2’s lifecycle and its ability to spread rapidly through the global population. This fact has added and continues to add weight to the importance of continuing to practice robust digital security habits.