Plenty of businesses today are embracing ‘bring your own device’ and ‘work from home’ policies to drive productivity, improve morale and keep operating costs low. Your company might even be benefiting from these tactics right now, but there are hidden risks that you need to know about.
As it turns out, hackers and cybercriminals love BYOD policies for three reasons. First, mobile devices are often lacking in the robust security measures employed by desktop computers. Second, employees are sometimes negligent when it comes to defending their personal and private online activities. And finally, it’s easier to crack a device on a personal network and have it travel into a private office network.
This can spell disaster for your business. Minor cyberattacks can sometimes precipitate into something worse, so it’s important to host regular cybersecurity education sessions to stymie digital incursion.
Below are a few activities to avoid if you want to keep your business safe and secure.
Visiting Adult Websites: Obviously not the kind of thing you’d want to open at work. But some employees might feel the temptation to use their work laptop or smartphone for extracurricular viewing. This is a big no-no. Adult sites are often full of drive-by malware downloads, email scams, credit card rip-offs and adware tracking. Once these bugs have infected your computer, they are very hard to remove and can even reveal your online activities at work.
Accessing Public Wi-Fi: This one might surprise you, but free public Wi-Fi isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Unlike private internet connections at home or in your office, public Wi-Fi is accessible to anyone, even hackers. Crafty digital eavesdroppers can see information being sent to and from your computer including site visited, credit card transactions and data transfers. Especially devious hackers might even set up a ‘honey trap’ connection to snare unsuspecting users into joining phony connection. For example, a Wi-Fi host labeled “NY Coffee Wi-Fi” might actually be a hacker hotspot. Once connected, the hacker gains access to everything on your device.
If you are working remotely and must use public Wi-Fi, employ a VPN.
Downloading Torrents: The world-wide web has all the entertainment you could ever want including streaming music and movies. Legitimate services like Spotify or Netflix are perfectly safe to use on a work device, but felonious streaming sites that promise free TV programs or music often contain the same drive-by adware and tracking.
And illicit downloads are even worse! Files shared via massive peer to peer transfers, also known as torrents, are a popular way of ripping movie, music and software from the internet. But there is never a sure-fire way of knowing that the file doesn’t contain hidden malware.
Falling for Bogus Software: Hackers love to prey on people fears, which is why you will regularly see popup or banner ads warning you that your computer or mobile phone is infected with malware. These will usually coax you into downloading – you guessed it – malware!
Similarly, imitation ‘flash player’ updates are malicious software in disguise. Don’t be fooled. Only download apps, software and add-ons from trusted sources.
Opening Spam Emails: Everyone gets a little spam in their inbox now and then, but an excessive number of spam emails might mean your computer is infected, or that the sites you are visiting are tracking your movements and email address.
If you do receive spam email, move it to the trash immediately. It may contain phishing scams, background downloads, harmful attachments or redirect links. Avoiding catastrophe is easy, just ignore it.
Online activities may compromise the integrity and security of your work computer, but following these tips will do a lot to keep your corporate network protect. Safe surfing out there!