Coronavirus Sucks; Working from Home Doesn’t Have To

Take mandatory or highly encouraged orders to work from home due to coronavirus as an opportunity to brush up on your cybesecurity know-how.

Coronavirus sucks, especially for those of us in Seattle. We’re making things a little easier by spreading some cybersecurity education for free.

This article was originally posted on the National Cyber Security Alliance’e StaySafeOline blog

Living in Seattle is weird right now.

Our Emerald City is leading the way in coronavirus infections in the United States, which means we’re also leading the way on implementing the preventative measures designed to stop the spread of the virus … and it’s making us all a little crazy.

Here’s the view from our offices in suburban Seattle:

  • Two-thirds of the deaths from the virus in our area are tied to the Life Care Center of Kirkland, which is just 5 miles from our office.
  • We’re located in the first school district to shut down (for a day) over a reported Coronavirus case; many more districts have followed suit, one shutting down for weeks.
  • We followed all the major employers in our area—Amazon, Microsoft, etc.—in suggesting and then strongly urging our employees to work from home.
  • Yesterday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee ordered the cancellation of any activity—sports, concerts—that would include more than 250 people. (So much for that Wilco concert next week!)

Our own Seattle Times has been doing great work covering this in our neck of the woods. Support local journalism!

Social Isolation

Anyway, we’re all now practicing this weird dance called “social isolation.” It’s one of the few known practices that can slow down the spread of the virus—and it’s popularizing the cool term “flatten the curve.”

We’re all doing the right things these days.

We’re all washing our hands. A lot!

We’re using hand sanitizer. Doesn’t it smell great?

We’re coughing into our elbows. (And looking askance at those who don’t.)

We’re keeping our distance.

And we’re working from home if we can.

Working from Home... In the Twilight Zone

I’m working from home and it feels a little like the Twilight Zone.

Frazzled by way too many Zoom meetings and conference calls, I took a walk at 1 PM. The Centennial Trail, usually populated by retirees at mid-day, was full of working age people, blinking in the bright light, seeking reassurance that normal life was going on. We smiled at each other … from a safe distance. We didn’t shake hands.

And then it hit me. The things I’m doing that keep me safe from the coronavirus are a lot like the things we do every day to keep our computers and our data safe from the weird viruses and assorted other cyber goo (technical term, sorry) that’s out on the Internet.

Only now, working from home, I’ve got to think about them just a little bit more, or a little bit differently.

Keeping Secure While Working from Home

At home, I’ve got to remember to connect via VPN to take advantage of the technical protections that our IT team has put in place. (I put a reminder on my calendar that pops up every morning so I never forget.)

I’m already pretty vigilant when it comes to screening out phishing attempts, but now I need to re-tune my paranoia for this new context. It’s no longer Rob standing at my desk talking about the Seattle Sounders that might distract me from seeing that sneaky phish, now it’s my wife asking when I’m done for the day.

Basically, I’m doing the little things I’ve learned to do to ensure that my connections are secure and my data is safe—I’m just doing them a little bit differently at home, just like I’m doing little things to try to isolate myself from this virus.

We at MediaPRO want you to do the little things too, so we’re sharing some of our training about working away from the office. Check it out for free here.


Staying Secure While Working from Home

Keep security top of mind while your employees are working remotely with our free web-based course. No gimmicks. Really free.

Access Course

It’s completely free: we’re not requiring your email address and we’re not going to bombard you with email if you watch it. It’s available to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection (it won’t work on the phone, sorry). If you find it useful, send it to whoever you want.

We’ll all get through this. Soon enough we’ll be back in boring meetings (grr) and going to see our rescheduled Wilco concerts (what would we be without wishful thinking?).

So please, wash your hands and take a few minutes to brush up on your work-from-home cybersecurity skills.

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