Navigating Cybersecurity in a Storm

    I sent my son a note this morning to ask if he was working at home. Yes, he said, but he had little choice in the matter. All of eastern Pennsylvania is shut down, he said, as is New Jersey and New York City, and a good chunk of the eastern seaboard. No one is going anywhere as Hurricane Sandy hits, but that doesn’t mean everyone is getting the day off. A lot of people are plugging in at home to work while they still have power and an Internet connection.

    In a hurricane, flood, blizzard or any natural disaster, cybersecurity may not be at the forefront of anyone’s mind. As a company, you are probably more concerned with making sure your servers stay up and running and with how to handle any potential disaster. Hopefully, you’ve prepared in advance for employees who are suddenly working in remote areas or are using their own computers and other devices, especially if that isn’t a normal company policy.

    When weather emergencies are on the horizon, most folks know to stock up on essentials like water and batteries. Some organizations offer a checklist of things to have on hand and in working condition. Have you considered creating a cybersecurity emergency checklist — things that your employees should know if they find themselves suddenly working from home or from another non-office location? Such a checklist would include the following issues:

    • Use a computer or device with good security software, including anti-virus and anti-malware.
    • Make sure all software is updated and patched.
    • Sensitive data should be encrypted.
    • If you have to work at a coffee shop or other public space, don’t access or send sensitive data on free WiFi.
    • Log off when you leave a site.
    • Make sure passwords are strong.
    • Don’t leave any laptop, smartphone, tablet or USB device unattended. Same goes if you use any paper printouts that include sensitive information.
    • Continue to follow all regulations and compliance rules.
    • Watch out for phishing schemes, especially anything regarding the storm. Stick to familiar sites.

    Most importantly, stay safe.

    Sue Poremba
    Sue Poremba
    Sue Poremba is freelance writer based on Central PA. She's been writing about cybersecurity and technology trends since 2008.

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