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Financial Crime 2020

Working online from home in challenging times

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Ridofranz

Tony Neate

Chief Executive Officer, Get Safe Online

Suddenly, we’re all in the same boat – focused on little apart from protecting ourselves, our loved ones, friends, incomes and businesses. Tony Neate, CEO of cybersecurity advice provider, Get Safe Online, has advice for employers and individuals facing home working for the first time.

For most of us, in whatever sector we work or run a business, the new normal for now is home working and the raft of challenges it can bring.

Alongside the isolation, there are other issues: insufficient bandwidth for video meetings, frustration because the papers you need are back in the office, having to interrupt your creative flow to sign for your food shop, kids climbing the walls (maybe literally) while you or your other half are doing their best at home schooling. If you do have the bandwidth, this can form an interesting backdrop to your video call.

Fraudsters know that, at times like these, we may be too concerned or preoccupied to spot something that isn’t right.

Then, there are the online challenges – protecting ourselves and our businesses from the massive volume of fraudulent and other illicit activity that invariably accompanies a crisis. The volume of fraudulent activity is as unprecedented as the pandemic itself.

Since the outbreak, we (and I guess you, too) have seen fake ads for anything from vaccines to face masks, links to sensational videos, bogus charity appeals and phishing emails on any subject you can think of. Fraudsters know that, at times like these, we may be too concerned or preoccupied to spot something that isn’t right. Check out our list of some of the scams reported so far.

Safe and secure working from home

We’ve put together some top tips for safe online working away from the office. In essence, these were written for employers, but employees should certainly take note, too. And if home working becomes the new normal, you’ll already be set up.

  • Ensure that cloud-based collaborative services such as file sharing and conferencing are secured with strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.
  • Set strong passwords for new accounts or remote accesses and impose rules about password usage, such as not sharing, using a password manager and not using passwords for more than one account. Check out our password advice for businesses.
  • Consider whether it is safe and/or sensible to enable employees to use their own computers and mobile devices for work purposes (‘bring your own device’)
  • If employees need access to your company’s network, files and email, set them up a virtual private network (VPN). Beforehand, read reviews for VPN security levels. Existing VPNs should be fully patched.
  • Emphasise the importance of protecting company-issued devices from loss, theft or damage. Ensure they can be locked down in the event of loss or theft. Devices should be kept out of harm’s way, for example from younger family members and visitors to the home.
  • Employees should ensure that their broadband routers are secured to avoid unwanted intrusion, and if they are out and about, avoid using Wi-Fi hotspots while doing anything confidential.
  • If work conversations are confidential, make sure they are out of earshot of any smart speakers that may be in the home.
  • Maintain your normal checks and controls, including for data breaches, which could be more likely under the current conditions. It may also be worth notifying your insurance provider that staff are home working.
  • Report data breaches which may compromise individuals’ rights and freedoms to the Information Commissioner’s Office at

This list is by no means exhaustive, but represents a good starting point. For the full story, please visit

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