Remote working: How to keep your devices safe from cyber attacks

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By Prince Osuagwu – Hi-Tech Editor

WITH the gruelling horror the Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed to the world, people’s work and home lives have come to collision.

Practices thought to be unethical and impracticable are now the new normal. Work from home or remote working methods which many employers earlier rejected are now forced down their throats and most of them pay to have it carried out.

Software giant, Microsoft, recently admitted that “our world has changed dramatically over the last couple of months and in an effort to keep the wheels turning, companies across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) are switching to remote work. Microsoft is no different.

Earlier this month, we asked tens of thousands of our employees from around the globe to work from home. A decision not made lightly as we all try to navigate the challenges of juggling the demands of home life with work hours”.

However, in this kind of situation, protecting your data, privacy and networks would be a great challenge. Microsoft says it analyses 6.5 trillion signals a day in order to identify emerging threats and protect users.

Several reports, including a latest Cybersecurity in the Middle East and North Africa report by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, have declared the region is at risk when it comes to cybersecurity.

With more of the people going to work, online, through home networks, do online banking, grocery shopping or even catch up with family members at a distance, cyber criminals will be looking for weaknesses to exploit.

Also in Newzandar News: COVID’19: CBN alerts Nigerians on cyber attack

So, small changes to known digital habits can make all the difference against cyber threats.

Apparently, that is why Microsoft, highlights the new practices that can help people stay on top of their game this COVID period.

Practice good cybersecurity hygiene

In recent months, we’ve all had to rethink everyday hygiene like hand-washing and cleaning the surfaces we touch. Working securely from home should be no different.

Be email savvy

A good place to start when it comes to cybersecurity hygiene is with email. 91 percent of cyberattacks start with email. For protection while on remote working Microsoft has created a multi-layered defence system that includes machine learning, detonation, and signal-sharing to quickly find and shut down email attacks. If any of these mechanisms detect a malicious email, URL, or attachment, the message is blocked from user’s inbox before it’s opened by its secure and isolated machines.

Advanced Threat Protection (ATP).

Remote workers must learn how to identify malicious emails. There are a few things to look out for when it comes to recognising a possible email cyberattack. One of the first tell-tale signs is a general greeting like “Good day” or addressing you by the incorrect name. This is then often followed by bad spelling and grammar. However, some scammers might have superb email etiquette and will trip you up elsewhere with suspicious links. To double-check this, hover your mouse over the link – don’t click. A white or yellow box will pop up with the actual link and you can see if it corresponds with the link mentioned in the mail.

Stay updated

One of the easiest ways you can help us keep your devices safe is to update the device software regularly. Windows Updates are important for maintaining your device’s software to ensure it continues to run efficiently and helps keep you protected. During the update process, we’ll install the latest security patches to the operating system and other programmes to strengthen your device against cyberattacks.

Antivirus updates are also critical to making sure your device has the latest protection when it comes to virus and malware attacks. All devices running Windows 10 will have Windows Defender Antivirus built in which offers ongoing protection. It also works with third party antivirus software if you or your company has chosen to install a different programme. However, no matter which antivirus software you have, you will need to update this on a regular basis. The easiest way to do that is to set up automatic updates to download when you’re taking a break or at the end of a work day.

Kick the password habit

Do you find yourself forgetting your passwords and as a result using the same password for everything? Now is the time to go passwordless so you never again have to remember a long 16-character set of random digits, symbols and letters. Save yourself the hassle and switch to Microsoft’s range of passwordless technologies. Windows Hello uses facial recognition or your fingerprint, while the Microsoft Authenticator app uses your phone to login

Always have a backup

Protect your data with regular backups. If by chance a virus does slip through and corrupts your data, a recent backup can be a real lifesaver. At the very least, try to save files that you can’t afford to lose, such as documents, pictures, financial information, favourite links, contacts, and important emails.


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