The coronavirus outbreak has forced Rwanda into complete lockdown. Studying, praying and working from home are becoming the new normal.
But working from home is shipped with its own trojans. Some private computers run old antivirus software or a cheap (or even free) VPN. Home internet, if any, is often not password-protected.
Password access is an easy safeguard, too, experts say.
What's more dangerous is, out of boredom or fear of missing out up-to-date information about the pandemic, you're likely to be tempted to surf around the internet hence visiting known and unknown sites and in the process expose your computer, to viruses or inadvertently give away your personal details, including bank details.
"People now have more time on their hands to click on any link that promises a juicy story or information they think would answer lingering questions," says Odyssée Ndayisaba, CEO of Continuity Group, an award-winning tech startup.
Those links are often loaded with booby traps that can, for instance, reveal their personal to banking details to notorious hackers.
"By clicking on an unknown link, you would ideally be granting thieves or other bad actors access to your phone or computer which has sensitive information," said Ndayisaba.
How can I be compromised?
There are three popular ways in which dark hackers can get into your device.
One, they will set you traps through links, waiting for your single click to sabotage your cybersecurity.
Best way to ditch this, experts say, is to be "very suspicious" with any link.
Also, you should not visit torrent sites as they are laced with evil links that can do real harm to your hardware, let alone data and the whole computer system.
You are advised to only visit secured websites (https://) but their security is not exclusively guaranteed.
The second way to get into your privacy is through malware. This is a kind of application software that, once installed on your device, can let the hacker control remotely.
Malware is often hidden in a link, that once you click, can install and run itself without your permission or knowledge.
You're likely to meet those links in social media messages, spam emails, and phishing.
Phishing is a malicious act of keeping a false website or sending a false email masqueraded as a trustworthy entity to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords or credit card details.
Phishing emails or websites can have their red flags, though.
For emails, assuming that you know the alleged sender, check if the sender’s address is correct (usual).
Inside the text, you may find the sender doesn’t seem to know the addressee. With a close look at embedded links and hyperlinks, they often have strange (meaningless) URLs.
Then inspect if the language - spelling, grammar are not off or the content is not bizarre or unbelievable.
The third, simplest but most effective, and possibly most dangerous is social engineering because it creates an inside threat. Someone makes acquaintance to the target and tricks them into giving away needed information.
The best way to avoid the pitfall is to always cross-check before ending up being fooled.
Can basic privacy practices protect me?
The biggest challenge to ensure online security in a work environment is that most employees are not trained on cybersecurity basics, laws and regulations while some institutions lack cybersecurity policies.
Some basic practices such as putting a sticker on your webcam and closing your laptop when you move away from your desk can contribute a big deal to your privacy protection.
You should not save work documents, especially those with sensitive contents, on private shared drive or hardware.
"SharePoint allows access to shared files wherever one wants, subjecting prior login to the remote security system. Few if none of the organizations I am aware of have such a system," said Eugène Désiré Nzengou, engineer technologist and Senior Industrial Technology Advisor at the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA).
What safety net tools can I use?
In addition to the precautious practices, there also are tools you can use to protect yourself in the internet world while working from home. However, some of them may also be compromised.
Most modern browsers have tools and extensions to assure the health status of links before they are clicked.
Experts recommend antivirus and malware scanners like Kaspersky, Malwarebytes, and Alienvault.Follow Mugisha_Cosma