6 Cyber Security Must-Haves for Remote Work

6 Cyber Security Must-Haves for Remote Work

The quick transition to remote work that many companies have had to make has revealed security risks that IT professionals are not able to monitor or correct as closely as they would be able to when employees work in-house. To mitigate these risks and protect data, employees will need to follow security best practices and abide by the requests made by IT. Fortunately, skills and security measures like the following that employees will need during these times help not only their employers in the present but protect them from personal security risks in the future. 

Secure Wi-Fi

The convenience provided by an open wireless network doesn’t mitigate the risk of sensitive data falling into the wrong hands, and this applies to personal financial information as much as it does to data relating to work. Employees will need to secure their home wireless networks with the most advanced protection available to them. Users should also have the latest firmware.

Encrypted Traffic

IT departments can consider a virtual private network, or VPN, on top of secured wireless networks to encrypt all traffic data. There are downsides to VPNs, however, including slower connection speeds. Some users may not like that their employer can monitor their network usage with a VPN, either.

Phishing Prevention

It doesn’t matter if a company uses the most advanced security software or the most impenetrable hardware if the user is the weak point. Employees should undergo training to detect and avoid phishing scams and their various modes — phone, text, and email —  before working remotely, even if they’ve already issued this training in the past.  All it takes is a careless click to give access to a user’s login information.

Fortunately, modern security software can even warn about potential phishing attacks.

Smart Password Usage

Not only is it risky to use the same password and username for multiple websites, but choosing simple passwords that are easy to crack also puts a user at risk. Because users won’t necessarily opt for best practices such as strong passwords that they periodically change, companies should ensure that their software systems require these password security measures and even use password managers to generate and store strong passwords. Businesses should also encourage two-factor authentication, which requires that users enter a second code that is typically sent via email or text, to log in.

Company-Issues Devices

Many of the risks listed above can be minimized when a company issues devices that prevent unauthorized changes and have the appropriate software installed so that employees have all the resources necessary to complete their jobs. Sending employees home with company devices keeps sensitive data away from personal devices, which may be less secure and more likely to be compromised, and companies can install enterprise-level security software to prevent malware and phishing attacks. 

If this is not possible, companies should set standards for which devices can be used, including software and hardware requirements, to ensure the devices being used are as secure as possible and to avoid the risk of “shadow backups” to personal cloud storage accounts.

Data Backup

Assuming that users abide by security best practices and a company’s software is set up securely, there is always the risk of hard drive or another mechanical failure, which is why a company must have a plan in place to back up data. Many companies opt for cloud storage, a solution that is especially useful when the office is inaccessible; however, some choose physical servers that their IT team members maintain themselves. 

Companies that want to increase security measures for remote workers or ensure that their systems are secure enough for telecommuting can contact us for a cybersecurity analysis.

What Is WiFi 6?

What Is WiFi 6?

Devices with the “Wi-Fi 6” label are coming on to the market. What does this mean? Was there ever a Wi-Fi 5?

The Wi-Fi Alliance has come up with a numbering scheme which will be easier to understand than the old terminology. Wi-Fi 6 isn’t just a new number but a significant advance over the previous standard. Here’s a summary of what it means and what to expect.

Renumbering Wi-Fi

The collection of protocols and standards called Wi-Fi is based on the IEEE 802.11 standards for wireless networking. Each version has a letter suffix. They don’t come in a logical sequence, so it’s hard to remember them or tell which one is the newest.

The latest version of the standard is 802.11ax. It will also be known as Wi-Fi 6. From a consumer standpoint, the two are the same.

At the same time, the names Wi-Fi 4 and 5 have been retroactively applied. Wi-Fi 5 is 802.11ac, which has been around since 2014. It’s been the state of the art up till now. Wi-Fi 4 is 802.11n, which came out in 2009. As you can see, they follow a fairly regular five-year cycle.

Wi-Fi 6 will be finalized by the end of 2019. Devices currently on the market are based on a pre-release version of the standard.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has created a certification program to go with the standard. Devices can be labelled “Wi-Fi 6” without being certified, but they may not completely support the standard.

New Features

With a new number, Wi-Fi 6 offers many improvements.

  • WPA3. The current standard for Wi-Fi encryption is WPA2. It has some security issues, including the KRACK vulnerability. WPA3 provides a higher level of security. One of its best features is that it makes encrypted public hotspots possible. With WPA2, there’s no way to set up an encrypted access point that doesn’t require a password. Public hotspots are completely vulnerable to snooping. When both user devices and access points have WPA3, they’ll give secure connections to anonymous users.
  • Faster speeds. The theoretical maximum speed of Wi-Fi 6 is 10 Gbps, which leaves its predecessor in the dust. Real-world considerations such as interference and protocol overhead reduce the actual transfer speed, but Wi-Fi 6 improves performance in other ways as well. It deals better with network congestion when multiple devices are competing on the same frequency.
  • Lower latency. In many cases, turnaround time is more important than raw speed. Wi-Fi 6 reduces communication latency, improving the performance of real-time applications.
  • Longer battery life. A new feature called Target Wake Time, or TWT, lets devices optimize the time that their Wi-Fi connections “sleep” while waiting to receive data. This is valuable for phones, battery-powered access points, and low-power IoT devices.

What Can You Expect?

To get the benefits of Wi-Fi 6, you need support for it at both ends of the connection. Some routers are available that support the pre-release version. The Samsung Galaxy S10 and the iPhone 11 are among the phones with support. A lot more devices will be appearing soon. You may want to delay your upgrades until a device that you like with Wi-Fi 6 is available.

To check for whether it supports the new standard, look for the “Wi-Fi 6” designation. Some devices may stick with “802.11ax.” Remember that if it doesn’t say “Wi-Fi 6 certified,” it could be missing important features such as WPA3.

The devices which are now available haven’t been tested against the final version of the standard. If you get one from a reputable company, though, you can be confident an upgrade will be issued if it proves necessary.

Are you looking for guidance and assistance in managing and upgrading your network? We’re here to help.

Watch Out for Cyber Attacks this Holiday Season

Cyber security is something we all need to worry about, but the holiday season may make us more vulnerable to certain kinds of cyber attacks, most of which revolve around holiday shopping.

Here are some of the scams that tend to show up this time of year:

E-Skimming

The target of e-skimming is company’s online stores. The attackers tend to go for medium-sized companies that have a good number of customers but don’t have the cybersecurity resources of, say, Amazon. They insert malicious code into the shopping cart that harvests personal information when you buy something. While there is only so much you can do, using a strong password or passphrase is helpful.

Public Wi-Fi Problems

If you shop in the store, you might think you are safe from cyberattacks. However, with more and more people hooking up a device to the internet during their shopping trip, whether while taking a break or to compare prices on an item, scammers have a window. Malls and stores offer free wi-fi, and this can be compromised. Public wi-fi can be vulnerable to hackers, and rogue operators may also set up fake wi-fi networks, tricking you to connecting to them instead. Avoid connecting to public wi-fi, and if you must, be very careful what you do on it. Never do financial transactions over public wi-fi and if you use it regularly consider getting a VPN.

Scammy Social Media Promotions

We’re all looking for deals this time of year. And promotions show up all over social media. They might offer free gift card codes, free giveaways, massive discounts on items. In some cases these promotions are designed to trick you into clicking on an infected website. They might also be trying to get your personal information in exchange or a free item that is either extremely cheap or doesn’t even exist. If a promotion looks too good to be true, it is.

Phishing

Phishing spikes around the holiday season, particularly in certain areas. The following are particularly common:

  • Promotions or giveaways that are too good to be true, as the social media promotions above.
  • Fake notices from your bank telling you a large purchase was made. As a note, if you are a victim of credit card fraud, your bank will call you, not email you, and if they do you should always hang up and call the number on the card, rather than talking to the person who called them.
  • Phony invoices, shipping status alerts, receipts, or order cancellation notices for goods you never ordered or purchased. All of these come with malicious links that if you click on them will take you to the scammer’s site. Often these are attempts to harvest login credentials for major e-commerce sites. If you know you didn’t order the item, ignore the notice. If it’s a real shipping status alert for a gift, then you should be able to check with the person who sent it to you.

Cloned Websites

Website cloning is when the scammers reverse engineer a copy of a real website. It’s often extremely hard for even tech savvy users to realize they are on a clone. E-commerce sites are common victims of website cloning. The scammers will buy a URL that is one character away from the original (typo squatting) and then buy Google ads so it shows up higher. Or they will hack the actual site and add redirects. (Be aware that this is also a common travel scam, usually victimizing hotels and people booking rooms). If you do fall victim to a clone, disputing the charges with your credit card company will usually get you redress.

The holiday season is a time when we’re all stressed and rushed, and scammers will take advantage of that. Be particularly careful. Don’t click on links in email, don’t get fooled by too-good-to-be-true promotions and make sure you’re on the site you think you are on.

For more cyber security advice, contact 4 Corner IT.

Is Your Business WiFi Network Secure?

Is Your Business WiFi Network Secure?

More and more businesses rely on their internet connection to provide outstanding customer service and support the productivity levels of virtually every employee in their company. Not only is it important for everyone to have good access to the router, it’s also vital to ensure that only employees have access to corporate WiFi. Here are some tips for small businesses to properly secure their corporate WiFi router.

Place in a Secure Location

Many companies have customers, contractors, sales personnel, etc. walking in and out of their place of business throughout the work day. In order to keep the corporate router physically secure, it should be placed in an area that has restricted access. Only those employees who are trained in the use of the router should be given access to it.

Secure the Settings

When setting up a new router, don’t keep the default login information. Pick a different username and password and only provide those two pieces of information on a need to know basis. A password should be a strong password, meaning it should be at least 15 characters in length and consist of a mix of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and special characters. It’s also a good idea to regularly change the password. Companies who deal with a significant amount of private customer information may want to change the password on a monthly basis. Others who deal with little private data may want to change their router password every 6 months or perhaps annually.

It’s also a good idea to change the default network name of the router. That way, hackers can’t determine simply by looking at the router name which router manufacturer (e.g., Netgear) and model they are attempting to hack.

Routers also have a WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) setting that is best disabled. This particular feature is designed to pair the router with a device at the press of a button. That’s great if the device is one that an employee is using for work-related tasks, but if an outsider is physically near enough to the router signal, they should not be allowed to pair their device with your router.

Updates

Lastly, keep your router up to date with all the manufacturer firmware updates, along with software updates for any network security your company uses as well. Technology companies often send out updates after they discover security issues, so staying abreast of updates means less chance for your company to fall victim to a security problem. 

If you have more questions regarding how to properly secure your router, please contact us!