The conversation around remote working, or working from home, often paints it as a phenomenon brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. But that’s not entirely true — many web entrepreneurs, freelancers and employees with work-from-home permits have been “working from anywhere with internet access” for years.
That said, the pandemic certainly made working from home a new norm in the daily life of the global population: In 2020, a major portion of the traditional workforce shifted to working partially or entirely from home via remote access. And what’s more, this model is shaping up to become the standard — even as stay-at-home orders have eased. (Also read: Bye Bye Boss, Hello Office of the Future: 2022 Coronavirus Edition.)
Unfortunately, this shift opened a gold mine to cybercriminals, who didn’t waste a minute before taking advantage of the swathes of less-than-cybersecurity-aware employees accessing confidential information from their home networks. In response, many companies are trying their best to enhance security features in their network to prevent hackers from stealing data. To do this, maintaining web browser security has become essential to ensuring the remote workforce runs safely and smoothly.
Want to make sure your browser is safe for remote work? Here are five things that may be compromising your browser security, and how to fix them:
1. Your Browser History
Your browser history lists the websites you visit when surfing the internet. If malicious actors have access to this information, they can launch phishing attacks against you to get your credentials for those sites. Your credit card, debit cards, or bank details can be compromised to web criminals in this way. (Also read: 10 Biggest Data Breaches of All Time – And How to Prevent Them.)
Clear your browser cache. This is a good way to remove sensitive information, especially after online banking. You can clear your cache manually or automate it to clear when you close your browser.
2. Your User Login Credentials
Saved log-in credentials associated with your email account are vulnerable. That’s because all attackers need to get into (and lock you out of) your accounts is access to your email: Once they have that, they can reset the password to any website you access using credentials associated with your email.
What’s more, cybercriminals don’t need to be present in front of your computer to steal your data in this way. If they manage to get your email address and password, they can work from any remote location using the internet.
Avoid saving login credentials in your web browser. Instead, use a password manager to store your credentials using a central master password.
3. Autofill Information
Autofill information can also be dangerous. When you log into a website, some browsers will prompt you to save your password for a quick one-click log-in. Some browsers can also autofill your home address while shopping online.
While it seems convenient, this could be a threat to your browser security: If your device falls in the wrong hands, attackers may find out your home address.
- Remove any confidential information or personal details that may already be stored in your browser’s autofill feature.
- Turn off your browser’s autofill feature.
4. Browser Extensions
Browser extensions require access permissions into confidential areas like browsing history, website content, or perhaps login credentials. As extensions run internally within internet browsers, anti-virus software packages usually can’t observe malicious extensions. Thus, cybercriminals can take this as an opportunity to develop malware-infested extensions and hack users data. These malicious extensions sometimes redirect users to phishing sites or sites containing malicious downloads. (Also read: Social Engineering Attacks: 3 Strategies to Mitigate Risk.)
Be cautious before choosing browser extensions. Use only genuine extensions; and only use extensions if you need them.
5. Browser Cookies
Websites put cookies in computers that help to identify users in the network and their internet surfing behaviors. Cookies are stored locally on your computer. Like browsing history, cookies can reveal any confidential information captured from your internet surfing and online work.
Disabling cookies could be a solution, but it would affect website functionalities. Instead, Purging cookies periodically can help you stay safe online. Some other recommended precautionary measures include:
- Locking your computer when you’re away from it.
- Changing your browser settings for better privacy
- Activating two-factor authentication for a website.
Remote work is here to stay. Many companies have noticed benefits in their revenue and a reduced office infrastructure cost. That means more people working from home — but it also means more cybercriminals to ward off.
Though hackers can be hard to escape, taking adequate safety measures can help ensure remote work security to the fullest extent possible.