October is Cybersecurity Month! This week we’re talking about protecting your personal devices while working and learning remotely. Did you know that connecting to a remote site leaves your computer vulnerable to an attack? Below are some tips and tricks to better protect your computers while working from home.
Securing your home network:
Update your router password: When multiple people are sharing the same network, they are connected and can share information. In some cases, this information can be stolen. If someone is covertly connected to your WiFi at home, they may be able to gain access to your work projects. If your router still has a default password, now would be a good time to change it to something unique. Learn how to update your router’s password here
Connecting to CIA’s VPN: If you are connected to CIA’s VPN, you're on CIA’s network. This means you benefit from our network protection. But we also have insight into what you are using the network for. If you are doing something you wouldn’t normally do at work, stop using the VPN to connect.
Creating your own VPN: If you are a student living off-campus, you might want to consider getting your own VPN through a third party.
Securing your communications:
Email: Read the blog post from earlier this month about email encryption. As always, make sure you are more cautious opening email attachments and clicking links when you are on your home network. Emails originating outside of CIA state: “NOTICE: This email originated from outside of CIA. Do not click links or open attachments unless you recognize the sender and know the content is safe.”
Video Conferencing: Whether you are using Zoom or Google Meet as your primary video conferencing tool, you should be aware of features that prevent Zoom-bombing, or video conference hijacking. With recent updates to these services, there are more protections in place there at the start of the pandemic, but protecting your conference with passwords, encryption (look for the shield), and knowing what options you have to boot nefarious players will be helpful skills while you use these programs.
Securing your data:
Separate accounts: Does your entire household use the same computer? If yes, to protect your information, make sure each of the members of your family has their own user account. This will prevent the muddling of information and will give you some control over what the younger members of your family can do on a shared device. On Macs, you can learn how to manage account permissions with parental controls here or for Windows-based PCs, here.
Encryption Vault: Saving work files in a cloud service can help protect your data, but you can also purchase a vault service that keeps your files password protected.
Antivirus: Finally, no personal computer should be without regular antivirus checks. While there are a few free options out there, in this day and age, pay the $3 a month and make sure you aren’t exposing yourself and your data to outside attacks. If you currently are using a CIA-owned computer, your device is already protected with Cisco AMP. Please do not install another antivirus program.
Securing your password:
Earlier this month, I wrote a post on password security. Read it here.
If you have any questions about securing your personal devices while remoting from home, please contact the Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading,
Poppy Lyttle, IT Manager