How to Securely Email When Working Remotely?
With the COVID 19 global pandemic shutting most of the world inside most businesses have shut down their offices and have sent their staff to work from home.
While this eliminates the risk of someone getting infected by the coronavirus and spreading it to his or her coworkers, it also presents a new digital security challenge with the now recently-turned remote workers perhaps being at a greater risk of online phishing, scam or malware.
Using an encrypted email, VPN, multi-factor authentication or an anonymous web browser like Tor is often not something that regular users bother with.
Before we jump into some tips on how to best protect your data and devices when working remotely, let’s first go over some of the biggest risks a remote employee might encounter.
Biggest Digital Security Risks When Working Remotely
Working from home involves some unique digital security risks compared to working in the office. There are a few things here that deserve special attention.
- Using an unsecured personal computer
Although it’s not a hard rule, many companies will have their own computers on which the employees will work.
However, when working from home, the workers might opt to use their personal computers. Unfortunately, most people don’t put a lot of effort or thought into securing their devices apart from the out-of-the-box firewall and antivirus protection that comes pre-installed with the device.
This, of course, is a big mistake, particularly if you are now using the same computer to send and receive sensitive documents online. We have already covered how to send documents securely via email, so go ahead and check that article as well.
What helps hackers the most is the fact that most people don’t know how to properly secure their computers online. Training your staff to recognize a phishing email, for instance, will significantly reduce that risk.
- Connecting via an unsecured WiFi network
When working from home you connect to a secure WifI. However, “working remotely” might not necessarily mean “working from home”. A worker might decide to enjoy a nice day and bring his or her laptop to the nearby park, have a cup of coffee in the local coffee shop or work from some other public WiFi place.
Unfortunately, public WiFi networks are not the best spots if you need to work on sensitive information as they can be very insecure and there are often hackers lurking around the Internet traffic, ready to steal confidential information.
- Scams Targeting Remote Workers
Certain scammers and hackers specifically target remote workers.
For instance, this phishing scam has users change their VPN configuration “in order to access the company assets while working remotely”.
Another type of scam targeted at remote workers is the videoconferencing scam. As more and more companies use video conferencing to communicate remotely, scammers have started to send fake meeting invitations with links containing malware.
To accomplish this, scammers are using spoofed meeting and videoconferencing websites. For example, there are over 2,500 fake Zoom domains today according to Checkpoint
Tips on How to Email Securely When Working Remotely
Now that we explained some of the biggest digital security risks when working remotely, let’s dive into a few tips on how to best secure your work from home mail.
Since we want to focus here on securing your email specifically, we will skip the general online security tips such as creating a strong password, using a Firewall, VPNs, installing anti-malware programs and so on.
Instead, we’ll go over encrypted email and secure your inbox and connection.
As you start to work remotely, this greatly changes the way you communicate with your coworkers. While, when working together in the office, it was easy to just walk over (or more likely roll your chair) to the other person’s desk, you can’t do that anymore.
Now you need to send emails to each other and that means sending documents with sensitive and confidential information. Protecting this information is crucial and the best way to do that is if both of you are using an email encryption provider like CTemplar.
Knowing how to identify a scam or phishing email is also important when you are working from home and need to send and receive a lot of emails.
Here are some general tell-tale signs of a phishing email:
- It’s not addressed to you by name but has a general greeting like “Dear Customer” or “Greetings Employee”.
- The email domain doesn’t match the one your company is normally using. If your company is using a custom domain and you receive a regular Gmail or Hotmail email, then there’s something “phishy” about it.
- It’s full of grammar and spelling errors. Okay, we all make occasional spelling errors and if you’re sending dozens of emails back and forth some errors might creep up. However, if the email you receive from your boss is full of spelling mistakes a fourth-grader wouldn’t make, be careful.
- The sender is making strange requests. If the sender claiming to be the HR manager is asking you for your username and password or some other confidential information, be sure to check back with them on another channel to confirm their request. Hackers will often pose as someone you know to get you to reveal such information.
These were just a few signs of a phishing email you might get. As more and more people today are working from home, the number of phishing attacks increases and they become more sophisticated. This is why you need to be extra careful about the emails you receive and what you respond to.
Using a secure encrypted email will protect you and your business when working from home. With CTemplar you can create a custom domain for your business if you’re on a paid plan and add an extra barrier in front of the scammers.
In addition, all your emails will be encrypted using 4096-bit OpenPGP encryption which protects your email attachments, contacts and content on all plans including Free and subject on all paid plans.
Ready to protect your email wherever you are? Sign up for CTemplar encrypted email today.