As the world comes together to face the reality of COVID-19, more and more companies are encouraging and even requesting that their staff work remotely.

According to research from the CNBC Global CFO Council, companies are now making changes to their businesses in response to the concern about the virus with 90.6% restricting employee travel and 62.5% allocating more resources to virtual work. This is certainly reflected in moves being made by major tech players, like Twitter and LinkedIn, who have instigated policies for all employees to work from home.

We’ve already seen impact in this with McAfee seeing a huge increase in the number of personal devices connecting online in the countries most affected by COVID-19. Since the virus first started, we’ve seen a 34% increase in the number of connected personal devices in China, and 7% increase in devices in Italy.

But while working from home will help protect employees to prevent the potential impact of COVID-19 to employees, this increased usage of personal devices connecting to companies can expose businesses to increased security risks. With the world now faced with a new reality, the question remains- are employers and employees equipped with the resources to work from home during this time?

The reality is employers must educate their employees on best practices quickly to mitigate against exposure from remote employees. With many employees relying on emails and the web to successfully work remotely, make sure you make time to educate on the key giveaway signs in spotting, flagging and reporting anything that looks suspicious. By sharing the responsibility and encouraging employees to flag anything suspect, you’re naturally raising awareness internally and warning others from falling into similar traps – openness is the key, and this way you’re always one step ahead of those with malicious intent.

For businesses needing to ramp up quickly on remote working, aside from employee education, there are a few quick tools they can use to protect their organization:

  • Utilize VPN: Some employees may be working via a public Wi-Fi connection, so make sure everyone in the organization is using a virtual private network (VPN) to help keep their connection secure.
  • Be aware of phishing emails: We’ve seen hackers attempt to take advantage of people’s fears with scammers pretending to sell face masks online to trick unsuspecting people into giving away their credit card details. Employees should not open any email attachments or click on any links that they are unsure of, and flag to senior management immediately.
  • Regularly change cloud passwords with two-factor authentication: Two- factor authentication is a more secure way for employees to access their work. In addition to their password/username combo, they’ll be asked to verify who they are with a device that they – and only they — own, such as a mobile phone. Put simply: it uses two factors to confirm the employee’s identity. Ultimately, getting access to something supposedly confidential isn’t that hard for hackers nowadays. By requiring a second form of identification, to log in, hackers are limited in what they can pull off.
  • Browse with security protection. Ensure that all employees continue to update their security solutions across their devices. This will help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks and other threats, as well as help identify malicious websites that they may be browsing.

Judith Bitterli currently serves as Vice President of Consumer Marketing at McAfee. She is a passionate advocate for online security, family safety and safeguarding our digital experiences. She has been in the security space for eight years and technology for over thirty years. She brings to her work a fundamental belief that online security is a basic human right in todays day and age.

Companies working from home stock photo by DC Studio/Shutterstock