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Surge in remote work heightens cyber risks during coronavirus pandemic

March 19, 2020

In the coronavirus pandemic, businesses around the world have urged their employees to work from home to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Remote work on the scale we’re experiencing heightens cyber risks like never before.

For financial, healthcare and other businesses as well as federal and state agencies that deal with sensitive data, there’s little room for cracks in cyber security systems, said Nikki Ingram, a Senior Cybersecurity Risk Engineering Consultant for Zurich North America.

“As an employee, ensure you are complying with your company’s security standards as a remote worker,” Ingram said. “Everyone wants to get their job done, but if, for example, you’re having internet trouble at home and your service provider tells you to lower your security settings, talk to your employer’s technical support before doing that.”

Employers should offer guidance to employees to help ward off threats. Employees should be reminded of the following:

  • Be wary of suspicious emails, downloads, USB drives or other things that could introduce malicious software onto your computer and into the network. These could include spoofing and phishing attacks from hackers pretending to be IT personnel asking for your credentials.
  • Promptly install patches and updates, including to your anti-virus software, to all devices on your home network.
  • Go into your Wi-Fi router’s management software to ensure it's running the latest firmware, which can update security flaws. “And make sure you have a strong password on your home Wi-Fi that’s unrelated to your work computer password,” Ingram said.
  • Connect to corporate networks using a secure means (e.g., a virtual private network), and store data on available encrypted network drives to avoid loss in the event of a computer virus or other malfunction.

Wi-Fi networks may be strained as more people use them at home. Workers with newer Wi-Fi routers and with higher service levels from their internet service provider may be in better shape during peak usage. If bandwidth is an issue, disconnecting lower-priority devices from the Wi-Fi network can help, Ingram said.


About Zurich

Media contact:
Wendy Donahue
Zurich North America
(847) 413-5439