For many professionals, working from home has fast become a popular method of getting things done. A study performed back in 2018 revealed that over 70% of global employees work remotely at least one time per week, however, since the coronavirus pandemic hit, resulting in lockdowns in many parts of the world, many employees across the world have been forced into working from home.
To help assist our readers through this unfamiliar territory, we would like to share some of our security tips with you in order to help you through these tough times. Digital security is important in dealing with data protection regulations, and has become more important than ever when it comes to handling all forms of business, working on remote and home networks.
Ensure Your Devices are Physically Safe!
Whilst it may seem a little obvious, it’s very important to ensure that your work devices are kept physically safe. It’s vital that the personal details of yourself and your customers are kept safe, so here are our tips to take care of them!
If you have to leave your home for supplies during the lockdown, please ensure that your devices, your computers, tablets and mobiles are shut down or locked. This will help to protect personal documents, customer’s private information and safeguard anything you do not want an outsider to have access to.
In the event that you live with family, roommates or children, it’s vitally important to keep your computer locked even if you only leave it alone temporarily.
If having your own workspace at home is impossible, it’s important to collect your devices when your work day is over and make sure to store them safely and out of sight. This will reduce the chance of them being accidentally interfered with and stolen.
Working on Unsecured Networks
It is very possible that if you work for a large company, your office network security was top notch. This might not be so true for home networks, or emergency networks put in place to assist you.
On a network with low or no security, it’s a sad possibility that you are now exposed to unauthorized access from third parties, such as cybercriminals, who might want access to your personal data and potentially that of your clients.
Your desktop or laptop computer should at lease be protected by a strong complex password. In the worst case scenario, if your computer is stolen, it will make it hard for the theif to access your private information.
If your workplace network permissions previously allowed you unhindered access to work software, you may be required to enter a multitude of different complex passwords in order to gain access. If your workplace has a complicated password network in place, it might be wise to consider using a password manager to use a password manager.
Encryption is also important for protecting information on stolen or compromised devices. Your IT department will be happy to tell you whether or not the data on your devices is encrypted or discuss the necessity of it with you. Encryption through company websites can be seen easily as a padlock shown next to the URL, usually on the left hand side in most computer browsers. If you don’t have a padlock there is a good chance the website is not secure.
If like many people in this situation, you are connecting to your work computer on a home network, you should make sure that it is not visible to other computers on the network. In a worst case scenario make sure that your option to share files is off.
Keep your Work and Personal Devices Separate!
It is far more common than most people would think that work and personal devices are one and the same for many people. It is incredibly important however to try and make sure that you keep them separate. This can minimise accidents from family members gaining access to personal or customer information, or potentially allowing people to get access to the device unintentionally by installing games or programs or going on unsecured websites.
Whilst it may seem like a hassle, it will massively increase your ability to protect sensitive data. It’s important to try and keep your devices free of unnecessary software as they can present a security risk.
It’s important to keep your devices separate as it lowers risk of a security breach. Paying bills on a work computer can lead to your personal financial data being compromised should a cyber criminal attempt to breach your company. Sending work related emails from a personal email address by accident can look highly unprofessional as well, especially if you are using the same access portal to your emails.
Ensuring your Connections are Secure
VPNs or Virtual Private Networks are an effective way of remaining secure online. They allow you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet, which is incredibly useful for businesses and ensuring privacy on the internet. They can also keep your browsing activity hidden from people who might be wanting to monitor you online. An example of a good VPN to use is NordVPN. If you don’t have access to a VPN, you will want to at least secure your home wifi with a strong password to keep people from logging into your home network.
Don’t Get Phished!
Phishing emails are the bane of the internet, and most of them are quite easy to spot. There are hundreds of them going about at the moment, wherein phishers are exploiting the fear of the Coronavirus and sadly taking advantage of vulnerable people.
These emails can for instance contain bogus information and attachments which can have a negative impact on your system if opened or downloaded. Only ever open emails from a trusted source. It is important to check the email address of the person who sends the email in case you get an email from someone pretending to be someone you know.
It is possible for people to disguise their emails and pretend that they came from a specific email address. If you hit the reply button, you sometimes see that the email to reply to is different. These emails should be avoided at all costs, as they are usually malevolent.
Working From Home For Long Periods
If you end up working from home over the internet for long periods of time, you should always know who is responsible for updating your systems, devices and software. Does this responsibility lie with you or does it lie with your IT department?
Your IT department can be very helpful in informing you whether or not your systems or devices need any additional software to ensure data protection and privacy is maintained. They can guide you through the setups either physically or remotely by taking control of your systems.
It’s important that you know how your data storage and backups work. Is it possible to save and back up your local files to a cloud owned and operated by your business? It’s important to know if these backups are secure for data protection reasons. Your local IT department should be able to help with that!
Working From Home is Hard
Working from home is not always an easy adjustment to make, it can be incredibly complicated, stressful and, at times, confusing. When working from home, make sure that you get some exercise and take care of yourself. Work away from distractions, and working to a set timetable can really help a lot. Don’t let your home and family life distract you from work, but don’t let your work distract you from your family. The most important thing is to stay safe.