CYBERSECURITY BULLETIN – With social distancing paramount to keeping us safe, those who are able have moved into their home offices, or make-shift dining room headquarters. This second edition of the Mariner Cybersecurity Bulletin is all about how you can work from home and even how you can keep in touch with others in a cyber-safe way. Below are some helpful ‘work from home’ tips:
- Beware of cyber-scams: as with any global issue, natural disaster, or even a holiday celebration, there are cybercriminals out there looking to take advantage of the situation; this COVID-19 crisis is no exception. If you receive an email, text message, phone call or online social media posting asking you to donate money (or, worse, donate cryptocurrency) to help fight COVID-19, always say ‘no’ first. If you do want to help or if you can help then contact local organizations to ask how you can help. There a lot of fraudulent fundraisers out there looking to make a fast buck off of your sympathy!
- Create a secure workspace: there is a lot of talk online about the privacy risks with people working from home, for example, if you are speaking to a client of the organization you work for while you are sitting in your living room with your family around you then you are not protecting the privacy of that client. Find a workspace that is as secluded and quiet as you can manage and keep confidential documents, information and conversations confidential.
- Test your home Internet connection: I have the fastest Internet connection available from my Internet Service Provider (ISP) but even I have noticed that it is slow at times. Download a free WiFi speed testing app like Speed Test and run it a few times during the day (at different times) and in different areas of your house – this will give you speed ratings for your wireless network at home and it can tell you where you might have a weaker signal in your house or what times of day you can expect your Internet to be slower. To resolve slow Internet speeds or weak signals, first contact your provider (Bell, Rogers, etc.) and see what they can tell you and also consider ordering a WiFi signal booster from Amazon, Best Buy, Staples, etc. You can place a booster in the area(s) of your home with a weak signal and improve performance.
- Be sure you are using a good quality home router: the Internet router that comes from your ISP can sometimes include additional security features you might not even be using that can be quite handy such as limiting Internet usage on certain devices attached to your home network during the day (when you need to get work done!) but these settings can be difficult to manage. I prefer to have my own Next Generation Firewall/Smart Router for everything in my house to attach to because:
- I can manage it with an app on my smartphone
- t has more features than the router that came from my ISP
- It has a much better signal range
- You can order a Smart Router or Next Generation Firewall (the name varies) from any online retailer but I picked up an Asus AC87U (AC2400) for my smart firewall/router and I attached it the router from my ISP (because you have to keep that ISP router in place); I then configured my Asus router and connected all of the devices in my house to my new router so that I can manage everything from there and so that everything that is connected is fully protected. My smart router included a full subscription to Trend Micro antivirus so this little router actively scans my network for viruses and it checks any device that attaches to my network (including my niece and her friends when they drop over!). It also allows me to block inappropriate content on my network and set times for usage for each device on my network if I like or even control the amount of data or the amount of network bandwidth each device gets. It also includes artificial intelligence technology to detect possible unknown security threats and analyze them for me.
Check back next week for more suggestions on how to stay cyber-safe when working from home.