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March 22nd, 2020

Working remote? 7 tips to keep computer viruses out too

Do you also work at home? Then think about information security! These tips prove that smart measures to combat this epidemic do not have to come at the expense of secure working practices. Moreover, with a few simple actions, you can make things a lot more difficult for cyber criminals. Because they, unfortunately, see this as an opportunity and know how to use this to their advantage. 7 smart tips!

1. Start with a checklist

For many flex workers, working from home is already a familiar area. You unfold your laptop and a connection is easily made to the company network via a secure VPN. Even then, it is very important to stay alert and human errors are easily made. If you click on a dangerous link in a wrong email, it doesn’t matter how secure your laptop is.At the same time, a large group of people is now joining, for whom it will take some getting used to. In some cases you are suddenly working with private devices, and you cannot count on the security measures your office provides. So let’s start with hardware: your computer and/or laptop. In order to protect those devices against hacks and viruses, it is important to take good care of your software, just like in the office. If you don’t work at home regularly yet, start with a checklist; do I have the right security programs on my computer? Do I work with software that has been approved by my employer? Are all programs fully up-to-date? Contact your IT department about this, they’ll know exactly what you can do.

2. Update, update, update

You probably know those persistent messages on your digital desktop; ‘Update available’. Annoying? Then realise that these are often crucial security updates and keeps hackers away. The latest version of the software is there not only to improve the ease of use, but also to fix a security breach! Moreover, take a good look at what you are actually being asked to do. When you install an update, you often casually click on ‘next’, ‘next’, ‘next’ until it says ‘finish’. In the next few steps, check whether you have selected the right checkboxes and that you agree with them. Software is by default ‘open’, it’s up to you to put the right locks

3. Use good antivirus software

Regularly wash your hands and sneeze in your elbow – – these are all simple but effective ways to stay virus free and protect others from it. Apply the same precautions to your devices and software now; also work at home with a good antivirus software to keep harmful things out. Use, for example, the free scanner from But your employer might offer some possibilities to buy a trustworthy package for your mobile devices and computer at home. And don’t be reluctant to invest in this yourself; Bitdefender Internet Security is already available for around 25 euros. Alternatives that also score high include F-Secure, Norton, ESET, Kaspersky and Trend Micro.

4. Cyber criminals are exploiting the panic en masse

Cyber criminals are also aware of the coronavirus. Phishing emails can be very effective, especially if they respond to personal or collective anxiety. Therefore, be extra alert for messages or webshops that misuse the epidemic as a theme. They could pretend, for example, to have a step-by-step plan to XXX, but in the meantime rely on your logins, personal or company information. In the past few days, the number of false emails about the virus has increased enormously coming from, for example, the CDC, drug sellers or your own management with an seemingly logical message. Get more tips on phishing and how to guard against it at

5. Use strong passwords

By locking your mobile devices and always storing them safely, we make it a lot harder for intruders to access our data. But passwords are just as important. A good password on all devices and (personal) accounts at home is just as important as in the office. So stay away from ‘welcome123’ and make sure you lock your screen right away when you’re not using the device. What’s more, always use unique passwords, and don’t put the same smart password on your Netflix account as on your business email, no matter how easy that may sound. The biggest leaks we encounter are often private systems (such as Ticketmaster last month), so don’t use your business email for private purchases, and never use passwords twice.

6. Share files safely and sensibly

Walking to your colleague is not an option right now; we will be sharing a lot more information with each other in a different way. That also means more risks, more room for errors and more security incidents. Take, for example, that quick email to your colleague; in the rush you have to grab a ‘reply all’, or you accidentally put someone’s private email as the recipient when you auto-fill the address. Apply the same caution when sending files: be aware of the risks and check whether you have chosen the right method to share a file; chances are your employer is already facilitating this for you. So make use of that! And if not, make sure you handle information responsibly. By adding a password on a file, for example. No idea how to do that? Your IT department or service desk can help you with that. 

7. Invest in information awareness

Working from home is a smart solution and a sensible measure, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. But see it as an opportunity; this may be the time to invest a little in yourself and to immerse yourself in information security. After all, it is crucial for every organisation that employees know exactly what they can do to reduce security risks and are able to work with a strong sense of security. In the end, the most important measure on digital security is your common sense, and with these tips you will be able to work much more securely.

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