Cyber ​​security for remote work

Cyber ​​security for remote work

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal agencies required many employees to work remotely. Some FSIS employees now have the opportunity to work remotely full-time or a combination of remote and on-site work. Cyber ​​security is a concern that employees should consider wherever they are working on a computer or other electronic device. There are significant cybersecurity risks when working remotely that these workers need to be aware of and the actions they can take. This includes network security and ensuring that they follow best remote working practices.

Network security for everyone

Network security is important for home networks as well as in the business world. Most homes with high-speed Internet connections have one or more wireless routers, which can be exploited if not properly secured. A robust network security system helps reduce the risks of data loss, theft and vandalism. To help protect the security of your network, there are steps you can take.

Many software and hardware products come out of the box with very permissive factory default configurations intended to make them easy to use and reduce troubleshooting time for customer service. However, these configurations are available to provide security. You should take steps to strengthen the default configuration parameters to reduce vulnerabilities and protect against intrusions.

  • Change the default administrator password for the router. Use strong and unique passwords. To help secure your devices.
  • Change the default service set identifier (SSID), sometimes referred to as the network. SSID is a unique name that identifies a specific wireless LAN.
  • Disable Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS). WPS provides simplified mechanisms for a wireless device to join a wi-fi network without having to enter the wireless network password. However, there is a design flaw in the WPS specification, which makes cyber attacks questionable.

Best practices for remote work

As a remote worker, there are several best practices you can take to ensure that your devices are safe from cybersecurity threats.

  • Use only agency-approved collaboration tools, including chat and video conferencing platforms.
  • Use agency-approved methods for file sharing. Consider distribution and publication when using agency approved platforms.
  • Storing work-related content on Government Equipment (GFE) and supported cloud services. Do not forward work emails to a personal email account.
  • Log out of your remote connection at the end of the work day.
  • Just connect the GFE to a network that you fully control such as your home network. Don’t connect to a network you don’t own or control like public wi-fi.
  • Use devices owned, operated and protected by the agency, such as laptops or smartphones.
  • Avoid opening email or clicking on links from people you don’t know, that have generic greetings, scam hyperlinks and websites, contain suspicious attachments, or require you to download and open an attachment.
  • Always install updates to your GFE when the agency or CEC asks you to.
  • Complete the USDA Information Security Awareness Training each year and review the training if necessary.

Report cyber security concerns

If you have a cybersecurity concern, immediately contact the CEC Help Desk at 1-877-873-0783. Follow their instructions for the next steps.

more information

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) provides a Security Tips: Home Network Security and information about CISA Best practices for remote work. The Council of American Information Officers also provides information on Remote working best practices.

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