How to keep communications secure during remote work

Sam Tayan, Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa at Zoom, elucidates some of the best practices for people working from home to help keep up good online security and avoid preventable breaches.

October 1st marked the start of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This year, with many of us working remotely, or in hybrid work-environments, it is important to keep ourselves informed on how we can stay secure online– regardless of our physical location.

We have collected some best practices for people working from home to help keep up good online security and avoid preventable breaches.

Securing our devices

Globally, vulnerabilities, phishing attacks and hackings saw rising numbers in 2020, and the UAE foiled 100,000 cyber-attacks only during the month of June. Here are a few tips to help you keep your device secure and prevent unauthorized access:

Download anti-virus software – By downloading anti-virus software, you can ensure that your device remains secure and harmful viruses like trojan horses do not wreak havoc on your system.

Update software patches – If your device requires an update or patch, downloading it will ensure that your software is up-to-date and any known vulnerabilities in the software have been addressed.

Don’t lend your work device to friends or family – While it may seem harmless to let a friend or family member use your device, they may not be aware of security threats and may expose your device to malicious software.

Secure your laptop when you aren’t using it – Locking your device or putting it away when you aren’t using it ensures that no one can access your device and protects the sensitive information that is stored on it.

Securing our data

Although your physical device may be safe, hackers and unauthorized parties can still access the data on your device through various cyberattacks. Here are a few tips to protect your data:

Two-factor authentication – We recently enhanced our two-factor authentication for the Zoom desktop client and mobile app. Turning on two-factor authentication for your digital accounts provides another layer of security by requiring additional identifying information during log-ins.

Use a VPN – Using VPN encrypts your data, which makes it unreadable to any hackers or unauthorized parties and ensures that your data does not end up in the wrong hands.

Talk to your IT department – Your position may require handling very sensitive or confidential information, so make sure to contact your IT department to make sure you are following all recommended security measures to keep your data secure.

Remain vigilant – Phishing attacks are some of the most common cyber-attacks, and you can avoid them by scanning attachments sent over email using antivirus software, checking that emails are coming from known accounts, and confirming requests you receive over email using other communication channels.

Be aware of the network – It is easy to jump on a public Wi-Fi network without knowing, but it could be compromised, and you could be at risk. When in doubt, reach out to your provider or your IT/security team at your company.

Securing our meetings

Online communication and video-conferencing platforms like Zoom are equipped with several features to help keep meetings secure and confidential. For starters, we always recommend enabling passcodes for meetings, so only those with the passcode they received in the meeting invite can join. Additionally, it is important to remember to never share the meeting ID or passcode on social media or other online platforms.

Below are other security features and options can help further secure the meeting to block unauthorized access:

Use Waiting Rooms – You can enable a virtual staging area that prevents people from joining a meeting until the host is ready. Meeting hosts can then admit people in the Waiting Room individually or all at once.

Lock your meetings – After all your participants have joined your meeting, use the Lock Meeting feature to prevent any other participants from joining the meeting.

Control chat and screen sharing – Enable or disable participants’ ability to use the chat function and share their screens.

Remove participants – If you have unauthorized users joining your meeting, you can use the Remove Participant feature, which will remove the user from the meeting and prevents them from re-joining the meeting.

Whether we work from home, from the office, or remain distributed between both, we need to remain vigilant of our online behaviour and take the necessary precautions to prevent any mishaps. Finding this new work mode challenging is only normal, but the quicker we get accustomed to the features the earlier we pass this turbulent phase. Luckily, there are plenty of useful resources available that help keep our virtual meetings and daily communications secure.