A new normal: remote working

25th March 2020

Stuart Reed
VP of Cyber

Change truly has been the only constant for the world over the last two weeks. As a society we face disruption to all parts of our lives and, as businesses, testing times are ahead. For the luckiest among us though, remote working gives us the opportunity to find some degree of day-to-day normality.

When change happens so quickly, however, it’s understandable that both businesses and employees alike may not have been quite as ready as they would have preferred, when it comes to remote working. For employees, they may have questions around best practices and the correct processes, while for businesses there may be new systems or policies to implement.

While the implications of the huge swing towards remote working has numerous consequences, we wanted to take a look specifically at the security element and to provide some helpful cyber tips for those finding themselves as a ‘new’ remote worker.

In broad terms, let’s first summarise the situation we find ourselves in. We have a different environment with people working on home networks and not within quick reach of an in-person cyber or IT team. We are facing new threats, not only in terms of those home networks needing to be protected but there have been reports of COVID-19 related phishing emails, for example. This brings with it another issue, are we more susceptible because of the thirst for information around COVID-19? We may be much more likely to click on what looks like a news update related to COVID-19 and it’s much harder to spot anomalous activity, such as a bogus email, when everything about your working day is different.

So, how do we stay secure? The advice here is by no means new, but it is worth a second look considering recent events. Below are my top 5 tips for staying secure when working remotely:

1 – Be careful of where you’re going

Don’t navigate to any website that you don’t know or trust. Be cautious of clicking links and ensure you know exactly what URL you’re headed to and that it is legitimate.

2 – Pay close attention to what and who is coming into your inbox

Ensure senders are legitimate and be wary of opening attachments, for example.

3 – Keep in mind best practices

Take time to ensure you’re doing your bit – make sure your data is encrypted and avoid sharing documents that aren’t password protected.

4 – Follow corporate processes

Use a trusted VPN when working remotely and ensure your systems are up-to-date, well patched and that anti-virus is in full operation.

5 – Be suspicious

Don’t let your natural defences for what is unusual or anomalous drop. Question the out of the ordinary, even if it turns out to be legitimate, this is good due diligence that should be encouraged.

If you’d like to learn more about tips to spotting a phishing campaign specifically, take a look at these helpful tips!