Namibia has been in lockdown for several weeks and it feels like the new normal. Where people can, they have stayed at home and worked from their living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, studies or anywhere they could get a bit of peace and quiet.
What has become abundantly clear is that many people can work from home. Taking personal responsibility for their “to-do” lists. Working from home and using technology has however had some interesting side effects – some great and some not so great.
As always, criminals with malicious intent have exploited the Coronavirus and the need to work from home to hack into people’s computers and create online scams in the form of phishing, for example.
Whilst tele-commuting, people are using the tech they normally use at the office to use at home. With the whole family in lockdown, this can mean that a laptop, tablet and even the phones are used by a multitude of people.
Some of the users are more security conscious than others. A child accessing a fun website or in the midst of e-learning might be much more inclined to click on an advert, or a survey or any other phishing messages that may pop up on the screen.
However, we shouldn’t be too quick to just blame children. Hackers have been very sophisticated and used the Coronavirus to dupe people into opening up their computers to parties with criminal intent.
A good example is an e-mail that was sent out which had the look and feel of the World Health Organisation and claimed to have an e-book attached with the “latest” information on the virus called “MyHealth-Ebook.zip”. However, this email was not from WHO and contained malware that embedded itself onto your computer stealing information and data.
With people working from home, the network security and firewalls that a company network provide at the office, is easily compromised. Making files accessible in the “cloud” or having a SharePoint available, or using Microsoft Teams is great. Zoom, or Houseparty and other software enables people in “touch” but these solutions have become a playground for cyber-criminals and risks need to be mitigated.
Working from home, socialising and staying connected with friends, colleagues and family has become a double-edged sword. Cyber-criminals have no conscience and will use any means to gain access to the information on your devices.
This pandemic has left everyone feeling vulnerable and in need of feeling connected and hungry for any information. Receiving an email with a “Cure or Covid19”, may now be something you would click on. We have to remain vigilant.
This where tech comes into its own. Employees working remotely need to have the same level of security in the form of virus scanners, firewalls, password protected access to cloud storage and sharing of files to be done only over secure and dedicated private networks. The people using the devices need to be tech-savvy enough and safety conscious enough to keep documents, files and protected.
Here are a few tips to keep your information safe while working from home:
• Protect devices with anti-virus protection that your company also uses.
• Configure your Wi-Fi network to be encrypted.
• Change your router and login passwords (often!).
• If possible do not let anyone use your work-devices.
• Lock your computer when you are away from your device.
• Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if connecting to Wi-Fi networks that don’t belong to you.
• Always use company-approved software and applications.
• Ask your ICT department if you are not sure or worried about safety.
• Stay vigilant at all times.
• Don’t compromise on cyber-security. The network is only as strong as the weakest link.
Namibian and Namibians are robustly and vigorously fight this virus while trying to make life as normal as possible, continuing to working and making sure we have an economy to go back to.
This starts with keeping our information safe.