These days, work and home mean practically the same thing. Our house is now an office space or a classroom, so that means a lot of our day-to-day happens online. We check emails, attend virtual meetings, help our children distance learn, use social media platforms to check in on our friends and family – our entire lives are digital! This increase in connectivity could mean more exposure to threats – but it doesn’t have to. That’s why this National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) ￼you should learn what it means to ￼to be cybersmart and how you can protect all aspects of your online life.
In our third blog for this NCSAM this year, we examine what that entails. Let’s dive in.
Stay Secure While Working Remote
According to Stanford research, almost twice as many employees work from home than at the office in the U.S. in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And this new work-from-home economy is probably only going to expand in the future. Your pets and children will continue to make surprise guest appearances on work calls, or you may continue your new job hunt from the kitchen table. But as you work on juggling your work life and personal life at home base, this doesn’t mean that you should have to juggle security threats too.
First and foremost, users should be aware of the increase in malware and phishing schemes targeting the remote workforce. McAfee Labs saw a surge of cybercriminal exploits through phishing campaigns and malware with subject lines around remote work topics. Hackers use this sneaky tactic to lure targets into clicking on a malicious link, downloading a file, or viewing a PDF, resulting in the user’s device becoming infected with malware. Users must remain vigilant – always hovering over unknown links and going directly to the source in question.
The new WFH landscape has also brought about increased risk from out-of-date personal networks. Unlike corporate offices – which usually have IT staff responsible for making any necessary network security updates and patches – users’ home network security is in their own hands. This means users must ensure that their Wi-Fi connections are private and locked with a complex password or employ the help of a VPN to prevent hackers from infiltrating the network.
Be Cybersmart While Distance Learning
Work isn’t the only element of consumers’ lives that’s recently changed – school is also being conducted out of many students’ homes as they adapt to distance learning. As a result, parents are now both professionals and teachers, coaching students through new online learning obstacles. But as more students continue their curriculum from home and online activity increases, so does the possibility of exposure to inappropriate content or other threats.
For instance, the transition to distance learning has led to an increase in online video conferencing tools to conduct virtual lectures. However, some users have been sharing their meeting links on social media platforms like Twitter. This could allow an attacker to click on one of these links and interrupt an online lecture with inappropriate content, causing students to lose valuable time meant to be spent on their education.
To help ensure that learning from home goes as smoothly as possible, parents must stay updated on the threats that could be lurking around the corner of their children’s online classrooms. Take the time to secure all the devices that power your kids’ learning with a comprehensive security solution.
Enhance Your Streaming Security
Of course, everyone needs to find a balance between work, school, and play! These days, that means scavenging the internet for new content to help keep entertained at home. In fact, according to Nielson, there was an 85% increase in American streaming rates in the first three weeks of March this year compared to March 2019 reports. However, streaming subscriptions can quickly add up, causing users to turn to other less secure alternatives such as illegal downloads and links to “free” content riddled with malware. This could open consumers up to a whole host of threats.
Users looking to stream the latest TV show or movie should be cautious and only access entertainment content directly from a reliable source. The safest thing to do is to subscribe to a streaming site that offers the content or download the movie from credible websites, instead of downloading a “free” version from a website that could contain malware.
If You Connect It, Protect It
We all need to be cybersmart and aware of the threats that come with our lifestyle changes. By following these pointers, you can block threats from impacting your new day-to-day and ensure security is one less thing to worry about. When looking ahead to the future, incorporate the aforementioned pointers into your digital life so that you are prepared to take on whatever the evolving security landscape brings – now that’s being cybersmart!
To stay updated on all things McAfee and on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, look out for our other National Cybersecurity Awareness Month blogs, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.