Working from home during the coronavirus crisis has seen new trends including increased productivity and longer working hours.
But it has also highlighted the need for improved cyber-security in the home, as malevolent hackers increasingly target remote workers.
The government is so concerned about this type of cyber-attack that it has set up a dedicated National Cyber Security Centre Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS).
C3IA Solutions – a leading cyber-security business, based in Poole, Dorset – is urging businesses and their staff to pay heed to cyber warnings.
Matt Horan, C3IA’s security director, said: “Remote working has seen 13 per cent more productivity and a 9.5 per cent increase in hours worked.
“It has reduced absenteeism, improved the work-life balance and benefited mums who don’t have to take as much time off for child care.
“Running costs are lower and fewer cars on the roads has led to an improved environment.
“However, more remote working because of the coronavirus crisis has led to a massive increase in cyber threats.
“Google, for example, is blocking 18 million coronavirus scam emails every day, and since March phishing scams have increased by 600 per cent.
“If you also consider that people are sharing log-in details, blurring the distinction between work and home computer use and are working without full IT support, the risks become clear.
“It is essential that home workers connect to their company’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) whenever accessing business information.
“This is the secure link between the computer or device and the company’s servers, which store the information.
“Staff might not know how to link to the VPN from home, but if they are not connected then the risks of a cyber-attack are much greater.
“Studies have shown that 95 per cent of computer breaches are due to human error, so businesses must create a culture in which staff can report their mistakes.
“With families sharing laptops for work, home and schooling, extra care must be taken.
“One USB stick can infect a machine and render it useless for everyone.
“Another trend since lockdown is the increased use of virtual meetings – held on a variety of platforms.
“Those such as Microsoft Teams on Office 365, Skype and Cisco WebConnect have levels of security that you simply don’t get with some other products available to download.
“As we go forward new platforms will emerge in which security is much tighter, but until then businesses much exercise caution.
“One further thing to be aware of is that empty offices can still cause cyber issues.
“Faulty wiring causing a fire or a leak letting in water can ultimately lead to servers being destroyed; so they ought to be checked regularly – don’t just pop in to pick up the post, have a look around too.
“Home working has presented some unlikely benefits, but also increased the number of cyber risks.”
Report phishing emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org – and forward them. Don’t send.