March 25, 2020

Working from home makes you vulnerable to hackers. Here’s how to stay safe

By Laura Hautala

Working at home can leave you open to hackers, even in normal times, and these aren’t normal times. With one in four people in the US under orders to stay home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, many more people are now working in their personal space, sometimes on their personal computers or phones. That makes a much wider target for hackers, cybersecurity experts say.

At home, it’s less likely you’re protected by the corporate software that can scan every link you click and file you download for signs of danger. Additionally, your brain might be fried with worries over the spread of a disease that’s threatening to overwhelm health care systems around the country, and by all the logistical problems that staying inside present.

“I don’t think there are many people alive who have gone through something of this magnitude,” said Eva Velazquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, who added that current events are so distracting, we’re more vulnerable to scams.

There are simple steps you can take to limit the risk, though. That’s good, because cybersecurity firms say it appears hackers have become more active lately. Researchers at Zscaler say since January, they’ve seen a 15% to 20% increase each month in overall hacking incidents and a spike in hacking threats that use terms like “coronavirus” or “COVID-19” to trick users into handing over sensitive information or installing malicious software.

Limiting these hacks could help prevent headaches at work, and they could also stop hackers from stealing data that your company is holding on to. And since your personal and professional life are all mixed up at the moment, you can stop yourself from handing over your own sensitive information to hackers at the same time.

Here’s what you can do to work from home more safely.