a man with a mask on his computer in the dark

According to the latest estimates, 40% of Americans are now working from home, either temporarily or permanently. This adjustment comes with a change in how they conduct business, and how employees communicate with coworkers and management. Perhaps unsurprisingly, scammers have also adapted their methods of infiltrating computers and company records. If you’re working from home, we’ve compiled a list of the four tricks these scam artists will try to pull – and how you can avoid falling for them.

The VPN Infiltration

Many businesses have set up a virtual private network (VPN) for their employees to safely transmit information across while working remotely. Usually, these networks are hard to infiltrate, but scammers have come up with a creative way to gain access. They’ll skim the publicly available social media profiles of company employees, then call and pretend to be a member of the IT team for the VPN. 

They’ll then direct the target to a fake login page. The employee enters in their details, not suspecting a scam, and then just like that, the scammer is in and can explore the network at their leisure, skimming account numbers, payment details, and any other kind of information transmitted through the VPN.

If you’re contacted by someone claiming to be from the VPN IT team, your best bet is to ask them for a number where you can reach them, and then independently contact your manager or company IT department to verify their claims. Don’t worry about seeming rude or dismissive; it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when dealing with the currency of confidential company information.

The Text Request

Since they no longer sit side-by-side in an office environment, many coworkers will communicate through an online messaging system or through phone text messages. As convenient as this may be, it does create a weak link if the employee is also using their personal phone for work. Scammers frequently send text messages with links to malicious sites or software designed to attack mobile devices. These texts might be designed to look like special coupons from a favorite store, a request from a coworker, or an announcement of having won a company giveaway.

If you receive a text message from a number you don’t recognize – and especially if it contains a link or a request for personal information – do not respond or open the link. Instead, if it looks suspicious, block the number and delete the message. If there’s a chance it could be legitimate, contact the person or company it purports to be from separately.

The Social Angle

Employees working remotely may also be sharing more information on social media channels than they did before. This information, as with any kind of personally identifiable information (PII), can be dangerous in the wrong hands. A great example of this occurred back in 2015, when a teenager used a bit of publicly available information and some clever phone performances to gain access to the email account of CIA director John Brennan.

Remind employees to avoid sharing information that could tie them to a specific location or information that could be used to calculate their age, place of work, or family details. Social media has become one of the main ways we remain connected in a digital age, but that’s also what makes it so dangerous. If you notice any strange login attempts on your accounts, or if changes have been made that you never authorized, change your password immediately.

The Dumpster Thief

Thus far, we’ve discussed digital threats to remote workers, but we cannot dismiss the threat that remains to physical documents. Remote workers lack access to whatever document management system was in place at the office, which means, in essence, they must now navigate and create their own. If documents are used which contain sensitive or private information, they cannot be thrown out into the public trash. Once the trash is on the curb for pickup, it’s largely unprotected, which means that it would be easy for a thief to come by, pick it up, and sort through the contents at their leisure.

A professional document shredding service solves this problem neatly by both dropping off secure, locking containers for employees to store papers in, eliminating the possibility that they could be stolen or seen by another member of the household. The same company will then collect the items for mobile paper shredding, allowing the employee to personally witness the destruction of their documents before the particles are taken for recycling.

If you or your employees could benefit from a reliable, mobile paper shredding program, contact Secure Shredding and Recycling. With AAA Certification from the National Association of Information Destruction (NAID), we have the equipment, knowledge, and experience required to discard your documents in a safe and reliable way. 

For more information on our mobile paper shredding and document shredding services, give us a call at (225) 751-8535. You can also send us a message online or request a personalized quote for shredding.