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Working from home? Here’s how to keep your mobile devices secure.

By ATB Financial 26 November 2020 4 min read

The global coronavirus pandemic, associated lockdowns and physical distancing have many of us working from our home full time. While this new routine has become familiar to thousands of Albertans since March 2020, there are things about working from home you might not be aware of.

One of the most important is how cyber criminals have doubled their efforts to take advantage of security gaps between corporate and home offices. And not just technological gaps—knowledge gaps, like knowing when an email really is from the CEO and not a phishing attack, and how to protect yourself from malware.

Keep your work devices more secure with these seven steps—and increase your own cyber safety, too.

 

1. Educate yourself on the cyber security basics.

Are you aware of the first steps to take to keep your devices secure? Being aware of the basics of cyber security and the most common scams and scenarios that can potentially expose your devices to fraud can significantly reduce your risks. A great place to start is by keeping your security software up to date, and having strong passwords for all of your devices. 

Learn about cyber security basics for individuals and businesses by downloading our Cyber Security Toolkit

 

2. Secure your home Wi-Fi.

“An important step to take when working from home is to make sure your Wi-Fi routers are secured, and to verify your devices’ security settings are on and working,” says Aisha Kitchlew, ATB senior manager, Fraud Investigations and Cybersecurity. “Be sure to change any default usernames and passwords your device might have come with; cyber criminals more than likely already know them.”

To further deter cyber assaults, give your router a unique name—not the one the manufacturer gave—so it can’t readily be identified. Go with something different but not personal like your name or street address. 

Lastly, turning on encryption on your router will ensure a third-party cannot read your data if they gain access.  For this, your router will need to have WPA2 or WPA3 capabilities. If your router does not have these capabilities, you may need to update the software or purchase a new and updated router.

 

3. Set up a separate network.

It’s also important to use a strong encryption method and make your work Wi-Fi private to protect your data, Kitchlew notes. You can set up a separate connection for guests to log on to. One way to do this is by setting up a ‘guest network’ or second network with your current router, using a secure username and password. 

Not at home? Don’t use public Wi-Fi. Hackers love eavesdropping on poorly secured public sites.

 

4. Check your device settings.

Take a moment to review the default privacy and security settings on your devices. To protect your privacy and data, block pop ups in your browsers, nix location sharing in your permission settings and set your camera and microphones to “always ask before using” to eliminate any unauthorized access.

“Turning off the ‘save password’ feature on your browser might be inconvenient but is a powerful way to avoid a number of cyber scams and hacks,“ Kitchlew says. “You can also enable enhanced protection features available on some web browsers, such as Google Chrome, to protect against malicious websites and downloads and get warned of possible password breaches.”

 

5. Boost your password(s).

Use different passwords for each device and make sure the passwords are secure (check out these guidelines from ATB cyber protection experts) and in line with your organization’s security policies. To help remember all those passwords, consider a reputable online password manager.

 

6. Use VPN access.

One way to secure data as it moves between your organization’s core systems and externally-based employees like yourself is to use a virtual private network, or VPN. These services add layers of security to your online activities by masking your IP address, encrypting data transfers and keeping your web browsing anonymous. 

Your company may provide you with a VPN, but if not, use a reputable service provider. Most can be accessed using the built-in VPN inside your device (the most reliable approach) or through an app.

 

7. Stay informed.

There are so many ways cyber criminals try to break through our digital and psychological defenses, says Kitchlew. “The best defense you have, no matter where you are working from, is to be aware of scams and be able to spot suspicious details.” 

Beware of phishing emails, look at the sender’s full email address and avoid clicking on links in emails—especially when there’s no other content. Check out our tips on fraud prevention for more details.

Keep your company’s IT response team’s number handy and contact them immediately when you see a weird email or detect a security anomaly. Don’t feel bad if it’s nothing. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Contact ATB right away if you suspect your device might have been hacked. As a financial institution, our services are encrypted and use multiple security layers to protect your accounts, but forewarned is forearmed. 

 

Implement the steps above to safeguard your digital environment and protect your data. It’s good business when your mobile devices are secure, no matter where your office is. 

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