Over the past several years, cybersecurity has been a hot button item across the world. As the internet becomes increasingly ingrained in our everyday lives, businesses and individuals alike have had to recognize the looming threat of cybercriminals.
Most recently, in the early months of 2020, the world was hit with a global pandemic, which caused mass amounts of people everywhere to face stay-at-home orders and adopt a work-from-home lifestyle.
Although this shift in work style has provided numerous benefits and obstacles, one aspect that simply cannot be ignored is the increased risk of cybercrime — and the increased responsibility of employees to maintain hyper-awareness while working out of office.
While this deviation from normalcy has put everyone in a state of vulnerability, those joining the workforce for the first time are especially at risk.
To ensure you’re fully prepared and confident in your abilities to safely represent your new employer from home, we’re highlighting three things you need to know about cybersecurity before your first day.
1. How to Recognize a Threat
Since the influx of individuals working from home, cybercriminals have had a field day exploiting unsuspecting employees signing into corporate networks from their less-protected home offices.
Many people have experience and are familiar with the red flags associated with hackers looking to infiltrate bank accounts or personal emails. However, as a representative of a business, it’s important to understand the various methods and indicators of an organizational attack.
One of the most common types of attacks we’ve seen an uptick in since the COVID-19 outbreak are phishing scams. In these cases, hackers attempt to impersonate individuals or relevant companies to trick victims into sharing financial or personal information.
When onboarding in a new job with a new company-owned email, it can be particularly confusing to differentiate legitimate and illegitimate messages. To best defend yourself against potential threats, keep an eye out for these common phishing red flags:
- Improper grammar and punctuation
- Obvious formatting errors
- Extra characters, letters, or numbers that don’t belong, particularly in email domains
- Suggested links to click
- Unsolicited attachments
- Personal information requests
Approaching all seemingly suspicious activity with caution is the best way to protect yourself and your company. Should something raise suspicion, present it to your IT team. They will always rather you ask and be wrong than assume and risk a breach.
2. Proper Hardware Maintenance
The new normal in today’s work environment isn’t likely what you had in mind when envisioning your first office experience. Apart from essential workers, many of us have had to set up shop in our homes and make do with impromptu home offices.
Depending on your employer’s processes, tools and technologies may differ. However, generally speaking, you can expect similar hardware and maintenance procedures while working from home.
Because personal devices are often not equipped with enterprise-level security software, many businesses have implemented company-owned equipment policies. What this means is, rather than expecting employees to use their own laptops or computers, businesses are requiring all work-related activities to be performed on company-owned and maintained devices.
To feel confident in your home office environment, it helps to go into your new role having a basic understanding of the maintenance going on behind the scenes. A few internal cybersecurity practices your employer will likely have in place include:
- Password management: Password requirements are a fundamental basic in cybersecurity. A password management system can set a company-wide standard to ensure high-quality passwords are used, and a multifactor authentication creates an added level of defense. Always take password protection seriously and make sure to follow all stated guidelines.
- Network security: With so many employees connecting to corporate networks from home, there is ample opportunity for hackers to infiltrate these new access points. A secure network solution, like SD-WAN, keeps employees’ connection secure regardless of location, thereby preventing sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands. Secure networks are a critical element in remote work as they allow you to work from your favorite cafe or communal space safely.
- Software updates: Gone are the days of ignoring update notifications. Software updates are meant to protect against security vulnerabilities and if not completed on time can leave you susceptible to attacks. Your IT team should inform you of the company processes for updates and whether they will be automatic.
3. Internal Communication Processes
Every company is different and, therefore, so are communication styles. Determining this in any new job takes time, but when you’re not all under the same roof, it’s especially important to make the effort to get to know your IT staff and their communication preferences. Remember, just because you might not work directly with IT doesn’t mean they’re not still on your team.
Get to know your support team and you’ll feel more comfortable reaching out about the inevitable questions that come up as you get situated. The last thing you want to happen is for a small problem to snowball into a more complex issue because you didn’t know who to contact and attempted to fix the problem yourself.
Additionally, it’s important to know the format in which you can expect IT to contact you so as to not risk falling victim to tech support scams.
Should you receive an email or message from an unrecognized email — likely similar to your IT department’s — it’s important to report it right away. In these sort of attacks, cybercriminals will attempt to trick you into installing malware on your company device or into providing them with sensitive information.
Your IT department will likely have a set platform for inter-office communication and share that with you in your first week. Remember to communicate with the people behind that particular platform on all tech support issues and no one else.
Although the world may look different, the excitement behind starting your career shouldn’t. Beginning a new job is a huge achievement whether it’s from an office or from home. Following these suggestions will help you ease into your first day with confidence and security.