Tips for staying safe while working from home
March 12, 2021
From: Canadian Bankers Association
March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada – a good time to remind yourself of the simple steps you can take to protect against frauds and scams. This year, it’s particularly important to be aware of the latest threats as cyber criminals are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to target Canadians working from home. Here are some simple tips to ensure you are maintaining good security procedures at home, even if your home office consists of a laptop and your couch.
Protect your devices
It’s important while working from home to take precautions to 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 and the privacy of your work-related information. Check with your company for guidelines on ways to access your company’s network and files.
- Make sure your devices are protected with strong and unique passwords or passphrases for all of your online accounts – especially ones that access sensitive information like your bank account or email. 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 on other websites. Whenever possible, set the screens on your devices to lock automatically after a set amount of time.
- Get in the habit of checking your mobile devices for old apps you don’t use and deleting them. Switch on "Offload Unused Apps" if available and check whether your mobile device offers any other app security controls. Older apps could be unsupported by the developer and could pose a security risk.
- If you download new apps onto your devices, be wary of phony or malicious apps. Only download apps from trusted vendors but be aware that even if you download an app from a reputable vendor, there’s still a risk that it could be malicious.
Secure your home Wi-Fi
Scammers know that many people are now working from home and will take advantage of that.
- Change the default network name (the SSID), Wi-Fi password and administrator password for your home router to something unique, strong and hard to guess.
- Be sure to automate installation of any updates and patches for your router to protect against threats.
- Considering setting up a guest network for visitors and smart devices.
Protect your privacy and the privacy of others
It’s important to separate work from home to protect your privacy. Adhere to the privacy guidelines of your employer and protect the privacy of the members of your household.
- Separate work from home. Don’t save work-related documents or data on your personal device. Keep work separate and don’t let other members of your household use your work devices.
- Protect your privacy and that of other members of your household by limiting what appears in the background during your video meetings. Or use the “blur background” feature in your video conferencing software to ensure personal family photos or members of your family aren’t visible during your call.
- Back-up your personal files frequently to an external secure source. Also make sure you know how to restore your files from your back-up device and have a checklist in place to ensure those backups are happening regularly – very often you can schedule them to happen automatically.
The Canadian Bankers Association publishes a regular, free newsletter to help protect against frauds and scams.
The Government of Canada’s Get Cyber Safe’s website has relevant, updated resources and guidance on how to protect yourself online.
CBA’s Cyber Security Toolkit for consumers has a cyber hygiene checklist and tips on how to spot common scams.
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