Computer viruses are also a risk

Matt Horan, security director of cyber-security business C3IA Solutions

Covid-19 is not the only virus to be worried about if people are working from home, according to a leading cyber-security expert.

Matt Horan, security director of C3IA Solutions, has issued advice for home working to help reduce the risk of cyber-attacks.

Computer viruses will be looking for new, vulnerable targets and are likely to target workers whose home systems are not secure.

Matt said: “It is likely that more and more people will be working from home during this coronavirus outbreak.

“It is fantastic that technology allows this for many workers – but there are risks.

“If a company’s IT has not been configured correctly and does not have security enabled across all remote users then a cyber-attack is a real risk. And this is the last thing the economy needs.

“Have no doubt that the people who launch computer viruses and related infections will see an opportunity during this crisis.

“Remote working requires companies to fully manage their employees’ remote devices – usually laptops and PCs.

“Ideally these devices have been provided by the company itself and have been configured with security features enabled.

“These features include disk encryption, strong authentication and locked down tunnels for remoting into company-hosted services.

“Disk encryption ensures that if a device is lost or stolen the data remains encrypted. Microsoft’s Bitlocker is one such product that can be used.

“Authentication ensures that only authorised people can access the remote device at home.

“A three factor authentication is recommended; a strong password, a USB stick or phone with PIN entry unlocking capabilities and biometric scanning of a face or finger.

“Once the computer is secure it is important to make sure that the internet ‘tunnel’ which links it to the office is also secured.

“This is something that IT should be able to configure and it is always important to make sure these channels are secure.

“By working from home other risks are introduced, such as loss of data through equipment failure.

“It is therefore important that if workers are not using cloud-hosted services they back up data regularly and store them on encrypted USB devices.

“The UK Government has introduced a number of schemes to help people operate more securely when working remotely.

“Cyber Essentials for example provides some basic ‘best practice’ security top tips and if implemented correctly will protect individuals from up to 80 per cent of common cyber-attacks.

“Cyber Essentials Plus takes things to the next level and requires an external assessment of company services and networks.

“A bit of time spent checking your home computer security’ could save a great deal of time, money and stress.”

C3IA Solutions is based in Poole, Dorset, and was one of the first businesses certified by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).