Shopping Online with Work Computers: What You Need to Know
Everyone knows that lucrative online shopping happens during holidays. With the start of the Christmas holiday season, thousands of buyers have already started flooding the internet to check on the latest bargains. Research shows at least half of the employees claim to have used a work computer for shopping online. The question is, do they understand the cybersecurity risks of exposing both personal and business info?
One thing is for sure. Just as you have been preparing to make profitable purchases on this Christmas shopping season, so have the hackers, phishers, and spammers. Unfortunately, they intend to gain your information or find a loophole to force their way into the corporate network. It’s devastating how a single employee’s mistake while shopping online can end up costing them and the employer more than they had bargained for.
How do you protect yourself and safely shop online? Check out these tips.
Threats While Shopping Online: Cautions to Take
Phishing Links, Identity Theft, and Ransomware Attacks
The probability of clicking a phishing link is high due to the many platforms that offer opportunities to shop online. This can end up compromising your details and leaving the company system vulnerable.
Hackers out there understand how people feel when they see a possibly worthwhile deal. The expected behavior is that they want to make a quick order ASAP while stocks last. Fewer people would mind double-checking the URL before snapping. On clicking, the link may redirect to a website that looks legitimate or has copied the UI of trusted sites like Amazon. You’re then prompted to enter personal details like credit/debit card numbers or social security numbers.
If the phishers target is the business, they can steal the staff’s account details and use the stolen identity to carry out malicious activities on the business network. This includes ransomware attack, malware infection, and information theft.
Remote workers are no different. Some businesses have provided work computers to their remote workforce. These workers also need to be watchful when shopping online because they can easily expose the company’s cloud storage to cyber threats.
Precautions to Take
- Avoid using work devices for online shopping. When at work and you must do the shopping, consider using personal devices such as smartphones instead of work computer. You would also want to switch from the corporate network (e.g., WiFi) even if you’re using your PC or mobile phone. You never know the prying eyes on the channel, and the last thing you want is your privacy compromised.
- Never click on a marketing advert sent via SMS, social media, or email (mostly work email where you least expect such). This is weak link hackers exploit. Consider checking the email’s legitimacy or hover over the link button to reveal the URL before clicking. Besides, you can type in the URL directly on the browser or open the store’s app to check if they have something like that. For example, if the email claims to be from Amazon, then type amazon.com on the browser window and inspect the items advertised.
- Hesitate from shopping on sites that overly request unnecessary personal info. For example, social security numbers, work email, or DoB.
- The reputation of the merchant matters. Why would you even think twice about buying from a vendor you haven’t heard of before? If pressing on purchasing from such a store, consider conducting a background check from review sites or friends and family.
- Run from offers that are too good to be true. If you suspect that the item’s discounts are suspicious, don’t tap on that advert.
- Remote worker’s home networks should be secure. Software should be up-to-date, always. Enforcing the use of firewalls and antivirus programs ought to be a priority.
Staff Education: The Way to Protect Your Enterprise
Educating staff is perhaps the best shot businesses need to thwart unauthorized access to their network and systems. A knowledgeable workforce is a careful workforce. Besides, protective measures supersede recovery options.
Consider holding virtual webinars for your remote and on-site workers. Your IT department or partner can educate them on various potential cybersecurity threats while shopping online. Have clear win-win policies that are favorable both to the business and employees. Like creating or logging in personal accounts on the work network should be minimum. Educate remote workers on how to secure their home networks. The emphasis is to protect personal data and mask the company from potential security breaches.
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Eric is a Business IT cybersecurity advisor, consultant, manager, integrator, and protector who founded EVERNET in 2007. Eric co-hosts a podcast called “Finance and Technology Insights by Brian & Eric” on YouTube. Eric is a regular contributor to the EVERNET blog, writing about the latest technology news and providing his expertise in cyber security prevention and management.