Why Do Cyberattacks Happen in a Work-from-home Setup?

Cyberattacks, whether in the office or at home, are happening because they are possible. The only way to completely eliminate them is if they have nowhere to go anymore. Think of it as the coronavirus. Suppose the virus keeps on encountering bodies that are immune to it already either because of vaccination or natural antibodies from a previous infection. In that case, it will have no choice but to go away. This is what experts are predicting will happen once we hit herd immunity.

But what does that have to do with cyberattacks at home? Well, there are two things. First, protecting your home from cyberattacks is a bit like how you are protecting yourself from the virus. You are staying at home because you don’t want to be exposed to it. You’re wearing masks, washing your hands, and practicing social distancing because you want to protect yourself. These are the same things you need to do to protect your home. Do what’s necessary—from the most basic to the most advanced.

Second, you are working at home now because of the coronavirus. People have been doing this for the past 18 months or more. And while others have gone back to the office, here you are, uncomfortable with the thought of mingling with colleagues. This exact setup is what cybercriminals have been waiting for. Homes are vulnerable because they don’t have the firewalls and security protection that companies have. Whether digital or physical, cybercriminals can hack into the system, steal data, and erase important information from them.

Identifying Vulnerabilities

Why are these cybercriminals in the first place? They are present because of the vulnerabilities of the system. In the office, this usually refers to people sharing files and using simple passwords or even taking their work computers with them at home. But when you’re already working at home full time, this means that your house or apartment itself is vulnerable to attacks from cybercriminals. Why is that?

There’s a huge possibility that you are using your home network without a virtual private network (VPN). If that is the case, you are giving cybercriminals a way into the system. Unless you use very secure home automation such as the Control 4 automation system, your own smart home system may be the culprit for cybercriminals looking into your office data. The network you use for the smart home system and work should be different. You can either have a separate connection for work or use a VPN to cover your tracks.

Training People


Most people, unfortunately, have a bad habit at home (or even in the office). Because they are at home, they feel safe enough. Who would want to steal your office report anyway at home? But that is not the case with cybercriminals. They are not merely toying around with the income statement; they want access to people’s personal information. Your customers’ information will be vulnerable when an attack happens.

You could also be the problem as to why cybercriminals are getting into the system. You may be using weak and easy-to-remember passwords because you don’t think anyone will be interested in what you do. Plus, it is just easier this way. But this easy way out is also the reason why cybercriminals can steal data and information from your work computers. There are a lot of password management apps that will help you “remember” your passcodes. Strong passwords are critical, whether for work or personal use.

Lacking Support

When work shifted at home, companies were trying to cut operational costs, too. It doesn’t matter that they did not have to pay the rent for the time being because of government aid. The loss of income alone will push any company into the austerity gear. But austerity measures shouldn’t affect the money the organization spends on cybersecurity measures. Anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-ransomware programs should still be a part of the agenda.

The moment support for these programs stops, that’s the time when cybercriminals will find a gap in the system. Workers will not spend their own money on cybersecurity measures. That will leave sensitive information and data severely vulnerable to criminals who can sell them for profit or simply delete them from the system for their idea of fun.

While working from home was the obvious solution when the pandemic hit, it doesn’t come without its pitfalls. There were a lot of debates about how safe it is for employees to access critical information while they are at home. And while there weren’t any major breakthroughs for cybercriminals, that is not for the lack of trying. In fact, the threat of digital criminal activities was one of the reasons why companies decided to start in-office work again.

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“Right now, computers make our lives easier. They do work for us in fractions of a second that would take us hours. […] As things progress, they’ll be doing more and more for us.”
Steve Jobs
co-founder of Apple Inc. and founder of NeXT
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