Businesses and Workers Should Obsere Cyber Hygiene Practices as Telecommuting Becomes More Common During Coronavirus Alert

by Patrick Wolfinbarger, CyberWyoming and WyoVerse Consulting, March 18, 2020

LARAMIE – As Wyoming residents adopt personal hygiene practices to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, they should also observe increased cyber hygiene to protect their businesses and private information.

Laura Baker, executive director and co-founder of CyberWyoming, said the coronavirus threat is changing how businesses operate as they encourage workers to telecommute from home. CyberWyoming is a non-profit providing cybersecurity education, awareness and outreach services to the state.

“Working from home requires individuals to check if their computers and home networks meet security standards that usually are taken care of by information technology departments at the office,” Baker said. “Businesses need to make sure their employees have the necessary security tools, like virtual private networks (VPNs), to work from home.”

Businesses, nonprofits and professionals are encouraged to enter the free 2020 Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses as a means to review their cybersecurity situation, identify strengths and weaknesses, and develop needed cyber hygiene policies. In its third year, the competition encourages a human-centric approach to cyber leadership in small businesses that don’t have full time technology help.

Any small Wyoming business can enter the competition and receive free basic cybersecurity business counseling services. Cybersecurity business counseling services help establish a cyber leader in the office who may not be technically inclined but is provided the tools and support to be successful in protecting the company.

“We have had office specialists, marketing managers, and HR managers take the lead on cybersecurity in some offices with great success,” said Laura Baker, Executive Director of CyberWyoming, “You do not have to be technical at all.”

The competition winners will speak at Cyber Leader Awards Banquet on Oct. 6 in Casper and at the Wyoming Cybersecurity Conference, sponsored by Microsoft, on Oct. 7 at Casper College. In addition, winners and participants will be featured in statewide press releases and on CyberWyoming’s website. To enter the competition, email info@cyberwyoming.org. Final entries are due to the judges on August 31, and CyberWyoming helps participants write up the reports. The judges are recruited via economic development agencies throughout the state and are unknown to CyberWyoming’s staff.

Participation in the competition can be completed online if conditions don’t allow for CyberWyoming representatives to physically visit an entrant.

“Business can help both themselves and their employees through education on phishing and other scams that could provide access to sensitive information,” Baker said.Free education resources can be found at www.cyberwyoming.org.

“Local resources are also available through the Small Business Development Center, Wyoming Manufacturing Works, some Chambers of Commerce, your bank, and the Wyoming Women’s Business Center,’’ Baker said.  In addition, local IT resources exist throughout the state like Team Networks, IECA, EvnTec, Ptolemy Data Systems, TCI, DigeTekS, and Sweetwater Technologies. In Gillette, Campbell County Health has offered community cybersecurity classes.

To get started with improving business and employee cyber hygiene while telecommuting, Baker lists the following ten recommendations:

1. Get a good router with firewall capabilities (or a firewall) and make sure you create a guest network for your kids. Guard your private wireless password from your family users.

2. Make sure you have changed the administrative password on your wireless router.

3. Check to make sure the router and firewall have been updated.

4. Put your phone and tablets and any Internet of Things (IOT) devices on your guest wireless.

5. Make sure you have top rated antivirus software — free isn’t good enough. Check out PCMag’s (pcmag.com) ratings if you have questions.

6. No home business is too small to have a simple password or acceptable use policy. The Cyber Readiness Institute (http://www.cyberreadinessinstitute.org) has some simple and free examples.

7. Layer your security by turning on Windows Defender Firewall on your PC.

8. Set up an old laptop not connected to the internet to scan USB drives that you brought from the outside. Steps: connect it to the internet, update the antivirus, disconnect from the internet, scan the USB drive.

9. Encryption is your friend and it is free with Windows 10. Search for encryption on your PC to find how to encrypt your computer, individual files and folders, and thumb drives. Make sure your laptop and thumb drives are encrypted when traveling.

10. Use and verify backups. Have one in the cloud and one onsite but make sure both are encrypted. Even if you back up to a thumb drive, rotate a few different ones, and make sure you take them out of the USB slot when the backup is complete.

For more information about the Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition for Small Business and other resources to enhance business and personal cyber hygiene, visit www.cyberwyoming.org. For questions, email info@cyberwyoming.org.

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