With so many of us working from home, it’s important to protect against security weaknesses you might have in your home office set‑up. The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security notes that cyber threat actors often take advantage of high-profile events, particularly those that cause worry and concern, to launch frauds and scams. Here are some simple tips to ensure you are maintaining good security protocols at home, even if your home office consists of a laptop and your couch.

Protect your devices

If you can, try to work only using the devices assigned by your employer. You will benefit from the security measures they have in place to protect you from cyber threats. Check with your company for guidelines on ways to access your company’s network and files.

If you are working from your personal computer and mobile phone, make sure you take precautions to protect your devices:

  1. Protect your software: Install anti-virus and anti‑spyware software on all your connected devices and keep them up to date.
  2. Don’t delay on software updates and patches: Install software updates as soon as they are available so you’re protected against the latest threats. Even better – automate the updates so they’re installed regularly.
  3. Separate work from home: Don’t save work-related documents or data on your personal device and backup your personal files frequently to an external secure source. Also make sure you know how to restore your files from your backup device and have a checklist in place to ensure those backups are happening regularly – very often you can schedule them to happen automatically. Keep work separate and don’t let other members of your household use your work devices.
  4. Create unique, strong passwords: Create strong and unique passwords for each online account that accesses sensitive information. This is important since a security breach at one site means your reused password could be handed to criminals who may try to use it at other sites.
  5. Only install apps from official or trusted sources: Malicious code, like spyware (that secretly monitors what you do online) and keystroke loggers (that secretly track what you are typing) can be hidden within the downloaded file or app and used to access personal information, such as passwords and financial information.

Spots scams taking advantage of the pandemic

Scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic by sending fraudulent emails and texts with COVID‑19 misinformation that attempt to trick you into revealing your personal information or clicking on malicious links or attachments with promises of emergency government benefits you may have applied for.

Be skeptical. Fraudulent texts and e‑mails can look like they come from a real and credible organization. Banks and government agencies never send emails, texts, or call you asking for personal information or account details, and the Canada Revenue Agency will not advise you of your benefits by text or email if you have not applied for emergency government benefits.

Secure your home WiFi

Scammers know that many people are now working from home and will take advantage. Did you change the default password for your router when you first installed it? If not, your home network is vulnerable.

Take a few minutes to change your WiFi router password to something strong and hard to guess. And be sure to automate installation of any updates and patches to protect against threats.

Resources

The Canadian Anti‑Fraud Centre has compiled a list of the reported scams exploiting COVID‑19.

The CBA’s Cyber Security Toolkit for consumers has a cyber hygiene checklist and tips on how to spot common scams.

The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has tips on how to stay cyber‑heathy during COVID‑19.