Work From Home or WFH is a new concept among the workplace. Traditional idea of working was to arrive at a designated location, work for a fixed period of time and commute back home. However, due recent events, many companies from across the world have been forced to ask their employees to work from their homes.
This change in working environment has been quite sudden and have therefore raised many security concerns. In the beginning, companies focused heavily on keeping the work morale up, cutting costs while optimizing performance. While they chose to focus on improving productivity, one important sector got neglected and that was basic IT security.
This hasty and unplanned transition allowed cybercriminals to and spread ransomware. Workers are more susceptible to security threats and cyberthreats these days as they no longer have multiple layers of preventive security control that offices and companies usually provide.
Recent research, undertaken by the FBI has shown that there has been around a 400 percent increase in cyber-attacks since the global pandemic began.
Let us understand how harmful an unprotected Wi-Fi can be?
- Illegal activities: If someone has tapped into your Wi-Fi and uses it to perform activities that are potentially dangerous and illegal, the host of the network would face serious repercussions. People can use an unsecured Wi-Fi to sell illicit materials and move stolen documents.
- Spread infections: Technological devices are not safe from infections and viruses as well. A cyber-criminal can take advantage of poor security measures and distribute malicious software among unsuspecting users. The software can attach targeted sites and stage a DoS or DDoS.
- Data interception: The data that is being transmitted is not safe and can be stolen or modified at any point of time.
- Wi-Fi Honeypots: Hackers set up fake wireless networks in the hopes of capturing someone’s credentials and accessing their private data. Once connected, their device is vulnerable and possibly infected as well.
If you are travelling away from your work & Home Environment, The risk is even higher. You can check out How to secure yourself while travelling .
This article is written with the general intent how to secure your internet access ubiquitously..
We suggest the following practical security measures you can employ to ensure that your connection is secured and you are safe from any sort of attack or data breach:
1. Purchase a Decent Cyber Security Device.
What is a cyber Security Device:
A cyber security device is a unique hardware which acts as a barrier entry point between your secure network and the rest of the internet. This device has
- Inbuilt Firewall
- Port-scanning and port-blocking
- Ad blocker
- Suspicious Large data uploads/ downloads
Firewalla is typically defined as a barrier between a secured and an unsecured network. An example of unsecured network can be the Internet. The main function of the firewall is to observe the network traffic. There are three main types of firewalls- Packet Filters, Stateful Inspection and Proxy Server Firewalls. This additional security layer safeguards your device from security threats and unwarranted intrusions. The firewall feature is usually pre-installed in most of the devices these days. However, they are sometimes disabled and therefore we need to ensure that we enable it become we continue with our work.
We personally have reviewed firewalla and it is a great device.
Bitdefender box 2
This is a Roman cybersecurity company that offers anti-virus software to protect private devices. This anti-virus package is easy to use and has a user-friendly dashboard. It is equipped with a real-time scanner and offers quick performance scans. As it is integrated with a cloud scanner, the system performance isn’t overloaded or burdened. The software updates itself automatically and improves its malware detection ability each time, thereby increasing its hit rate. Furthermore, it also offers the feature of safe pay and spam protection. This ensures that all the financial transactions take place smoothly and the inbox is free from irrelevant messages. Anti-virus programs like Spy-hunter, Bitdefender, and Malwarebytes can help you detect and remove Byte defender.
If you have either of these devices installed in your Network you don’t need any further device. This will protect your Wi-Fi network. These devices come with default configurations and improve their security based on Machine learning, while understanding more of your network with time.
Pain points: These Devices need to be plugged into wifi Router. Hence not useful outside Home.
For this you need A portable Secure WiFi router with in-built VPN.
2. Invest in a good VPN plan
This can be quite advantageous, especially for those who have to travel quite a bit. VPN’s can be used to access applications in a remote fashion. Furthermore, they connect with different services like E-mails and web pages in addition to protecting traffic. We strongly suggest you to compare plans and find a service that is most suitable to your taste and preferences.
How VPNs Protect you?
- VPNs offer Privacy: VPNs are a great option when you are looking for privacy and security of Financial transactions. VPNs allow you to completely bypass the ISP network.
- VPNs protect your surfing History.
- VPNs protect online Data: VPNs are a must when you have home security camera installations and data is stored in cloud… VPNs protect audio/video files enroute while leaving your home Network and reaching the cloud storage server by encrypting the data while on the way to your secure cloud server. However it is good to have Local File Storage Server
VPNs are must for travelling professionals, or Digital Nomads.You don’t know When &with whom you’re sharing your wifi.
Mobiles, tabs, Laptops they automatically connect to WiFi in public places, Securing devices with VPN is a good option. Most of the VPN plans come with 3-4 devices protection with a single account.
We strongly recommend the following VPN’s to protect yourself from risks:
- Excellent focus on security
- Fresh security audit in mid-2020
- NordLynx delivers incredible speeds
- Tons of servers
- Mobile apps can be awkward
Number of servers: 5,400+ | Server locations: 80+ in 59 countries | Maximum devices supported: 6 | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
You can use one account to protect six devices at once. In addition, it transforms your online data so that it is unreadable by the third-party.
Nord was subject to a well-publicized data breach in 2018, but has taken great steps to remedy this, not least a second full independent audit in two years of its internals and no-logs policy. All this comes together to make an excellent VPN service that only misses out on the top spot due to a couple of app issues – and the fact that the competition is so strong.
$3.71 a month (68% discount) for a 2-year plan
Surf shark VPN:
Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 100+ in 65 countries | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
Surf Shark VPN
- Unlimited devices supported
- Reliable and quick connections
- Longer plans are great value
- Great for streaming
- Apps are fairly simple
- Location masking isn’t full proof
It provides NS grade encryption, adblocking and protects you from malware and phishing attempts.
- One time connection
- Platform compatibility
- Low flexibility
- Less speed
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160+ in 94 countries | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
Highly recommended for networks that require a large bandwidth. It hides your IP address and encrypts your data in order to protect you.
Like every other service out there, VPN’s have their own set of advantages and disadvantages as well. We have listed a few of them for you.
- One time connection: connecting to a VPN every time you need to access the internet can be quite a hassle. In order to avoid this, you can directly connect your VPN to the router. This will not only save a significant amount of time but also protect you as you surf the web.
- Platform compatibility: when the VPN is connected to the router, you can access all platforms easily and therefore don’t need to login every time you switch devices.
- Low flexibility: You will not be able to access content that is country specific as your VPN cannot be switched off.
- Less speed: if you are connected with a large number of devices, your internet speed will suffer and reduce significantly. Routers with low end processors might also experience this as VPN’s are CPU intensive processes.
3. Buy a VPN W-Fi access point
You heard it right!. VPN WiFi-Access points aren’t sold any where.
VPN-Access Points are like normal WiFi-APs that has VPN & Firewall Solution built-in. Here is a detailed article how to build one.
- Protects your data and prevents hackers from accessing it when you are on a public Wi-Fi
- A VPN access point allows you to draw the benefits of VPN even if your device does not support a VPN software.
- A unique and secure Wi-Fi hotspot can be created using Open or Public Wi-Fi access points.
- These are VPN and Firewall secured devices. A Close Neanderthal are pocket routers. Example:
You can make a Portable VPN Wi-Fi Access Point using Raspberry Pi.
4. Upgrade Your old WiFi to VPN Router
So far we have discussed buying a cyber security device like Firewalla or Bitdefender box2 using VPNs for securing multiple Devices. Building a Secure WiFi-Access Point Now we are about to discuss upgrading Existing WiFi Routers to add VPN Capability.
NordVPN is extremely popular as it allows people to circumvent geo-restrictions and provides the feature called Double VPN. Double VPN allows customers to encrypt their internet traffic twice. Firmware links for the routers that work with NordVPN:
For more detailed information please refer this article.
5. Connect your smart homes with a VPN
While smart homes equipped with IoT are central to modern luxuries, they are also the main target of attack from cyber-criminals and vulnerable to many cybersecurity issues. The data collected by your IoT devices can be hacked into and stolen by a third-party, which can use this for a variety of illegal reasons like identity theft. Hacking into smart devices and gathering sensitive information like banking details, daily schedules, shopping habits, etc. provides these cybercriminals with an insight of your personal life and therefore exposing you to several dangers. NordVPN is one of the most popular services for securing home Wi-Fi network.
Set up a strong password
While you might be okay with sharing your Wi-Fi with strangers as you have an unlimited plan, you should be aware that this makes you extremely vulnerable to the wrath of the cybercriminals. A public IP address and absence of a good password will make you at risk. Sensitive information like banking details and schedules will be stolen and your device compromised.
Several manufacturers provide the default password on the website or on the device box. Therefore, it is very important that we change the password and set up on that is difficult to decipher. It is always advisable to use WPA2 security setting on the router. In case it not already enables, then you can go to the router settings and switch it on.
Network encryption should be activated:
If you are using an old or outdated router, your level of security will be very low as they usually employ the older version of WEP- Wired Equivalent of Privacy. This security measure is Sisyphean as its protection level is very low and can be attacked by simple hacking suites. It is advisable to use a variant of WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access).
Hide your network name:
Service Set Identifier or SSID is the name of the wireless network and it is visible to those within a particular radius. One can connect with the network using SSID. Routers have the option of hiding the SSIS/network name. If the name is not visible, then it becomes difficult for hackers to locate and secretly access the network, thereby keeping your connected devices safe and secure.
Update your firmware
A firmware is the programming that is responsible to run core functions of the hardware. As they perform integral functions, it is necessary to check for bugs and ensure that it is up-to-date for better security. Some models of routers update their firmware automatically in the background, while others need to be checked manual. It is always important to ensure that your firmware is updated and you have gotten all the bugs and security patches fixed.
The Data Loss Prevention software can inform you in case there has been a breach of security or loss of data. Sensitive information is secured as network administrators set rules as to who can access or modify the data.
Separate your work and personal data
Ensure that your work data is present only on your work computer. Your work computer is taken care of by your company’s IT team. They scrutinize and install regular updates, take care of malicious sites and run antivirus scans. The same cannot be said for your personal computer. While it might be tempting to send an email through your personal device, this one error in judgement could cost you and your company thousands of dollars. In order to tackle and reduce security risks, employers have asked their employees to refrain from using the working device for their personal matters and have stopped the “diminimus use” policy.
Encrypt your data
Sending sensitive data via emails is quite risky as it could be susceptible to interception by a third party. However, you can protect your data by encrypting the data present in the email. Emails that have information that are sensitive and confidential, for example – social security number, bank details, login credentials, etc., use a variety of technology to ensure that the content is unavailable to any third party. This eliminates the possibility of the data being viewed by anyone else besides the intended recipient.
Several organizations from around the world have been employing tighter security measures like- two factor authentication, also known as 2FA or dual-factor authentication. It is a security process that allows users to verify through two separate authentication factors. This is better as compared to single-factor authentication like passwords because along with regular passwords, the user is also asked to enter a biometric factor like fingerprint or a security token.
This additional security layers protects the user’s personal device as attackers find it very difficult to gain access. They no longer can extract information through entering traditional passwords only. Sensitive systems and data are not less vulnerable to cyber-attacks and phishing scams.
Secured cloud services:
While working from home, you will need to share and manage your data with your colleagues on cloud. It is always advisable that confidentially and sensitive information should be stored in a reliable and approved cloud service. A local service will not provide you with the level of security you might need to protect yourself from cyberattack.
Never use random thumb drives
If you have come across a thumb drives that are suspicious of, do not plug it into a system. This is a popular hacking technique as these unclaimed drives can spread malware. The device will fall prey to the hackers and be riddled with keyloggers, trojans, worms, adware, etc. the list is endless.
In conclusion, this new age of security issues threaten a company’s working and poses a threat to the society as well. Cybercriminals have taken the current situation as an opportunity to exploit people’s fear and extract profits. According to a study conducted by Deloitte, new forms of data theft have come up and their main target is work from home employees. Going forwards, companies need to set up a multi layered plan that will train and protect their employees from being victims of such attacks. Cybercrimes are getting more and more crafty these days and it is therefore advisable to adopt a model, as discussed with the IT team, that will protect sensitive company data, prevent identity theft and spread of malwares and viruses.
As the economy is slowly digitalizing, there is a greater demand for stronger security measures. The corporate environment is constantly at a risk of break of security and having their confidential information and employee records stolen. The productivity of employees also takes a big hit as they face unfamiliar security concerns. Not everyone is tech-savvy or has a team of IT specialists at their fingertips. The steps mentioned in the blog are sufficient to protect you from low to mid-level security concerns and protect your confidential data as well.