April 14, 2020
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One of the greatest challenges for a remote workforce is to maintain a secure digital environment. By connecting your work computer to your home, the potential for cyber-attacks increases because many home networks are outdated and poorly configured. Enterprise network security has personnel who actively monitor and stop malicious traffic, but at home, this becomes your responsibility. Here are some steps you can take to remain secure:

1. Most importantly, check your Wi-Fi router. Have you changed the default password? Many hardware companies post their router default passwords on the internet. Attackers know this and will attempt to break into your network if you leave the default settings. When you change these default settings, make sure to use a complex password.

2. Regularly update your computer and software. This may seem obvious or like it’s not a big deal, but it actually is. Outdated software on your computer makes you as vulnerable as when you leave your doors unlocked or windows open. Make it a habit to check your computer’s software update program every week to ensure that your system remains up-to-date with the latest security release. (Check updates on Windows and System Preferences on Mac). Better yet, set your computer to automatically update.

Additionally, consider your other devices. Does your spouse have a work computer? How about gaming devices like Xbox or baby monitors? These extra devices on your network can be more open windows for an attacker to gain access.

3. BACK IT UP! What happens if an attacker gets into your digital environment and you can’t access your files? Or, what happens if your computer crashes? Tech support can’t come to you when you are working remotely. This is why creating multiple copies of your critical projects is a good practice. If you have an external drive, transfer your most critical files once a week. If you don’t, back up files using Google Drive.

4. Beware of phishing emails. Phishing is one of the most successful types of cybersecurity attacks, because it’s simple and effective. Phishing is when an attacker sends a convincing email that generates a sense of urgency prompting you to take some action. Often these types of emails will ask you for a password or to click a link. Because we all rely on email and other electronic forms of communication, please take a moment to really make sure you know who you are replying to before taking any action.

For Temple University staff, faculty and students, phishing might take the form of an attacker impersonating Dean Anderson, your professor or your supervisor. Often you will be able to detect that this is a phishing email because the spelling will be strange. However, cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks and the email may be convincing. In this scenario, hover your mouse over the email header to see the source email address. If the email address does not have @temple.edu, it’s safe to say it is a phishing email. If you suspect you’ve received a phishing email, do not open any attachments, click on any links or forward the email to anyone else. Simply delete the email – if necessary alert its.temple.edu.  

Kelly Sharadin works in the Marketing and Communications department as the senior videographer. Kelly studies cyber-criminal behavior as a student of the IT Auditing and Cybersecurity program here at Fox and has an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology. 

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