Working remotely has actually been on the increase for a number of years, with technology and work schedules making it easier and often more suitable. Then along came COVID-19, and suddenly it’s rare to find someone who hasn’t experienced working from home.
With the future being a little bit uncertain with how the virus pans out, we’re going to be seeing a lot more of people working from home, be it full time or part time. If this is you, you want to make sure your home office enjoys the same tight cyber-security your actual office does.
Here’s a few tips on how you can keep your home office secure.
When those annoying pop-up reminders jump onto your screen telling you it’s time to update your operating system or software, don’t ignore them. More than likely they contain important security updates that’ll protect your system from hackers. Out of date software is vulnerable and can be exploited, so although it’s easy to ignore the update reminders for a few days, we’d recommend following the prompts as soon as you see them.
The same goes for your anti-virus and anti-malware tools. They’re extremely important in keeping your data safe, but if you don’t update them they can’t deal with the new threats out there.
Trim Down Your Computer
Most of us have a whole lot of software sitting on our computers that we rarely or never use. If you’re going to be using the home computer for work, sit down with the family and see what software isn’t being used by anyone. Then delete it… if it’s not being used its not being updated, and you’re exposing vulnerabilities to hackers.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to Keep Your Home Office Secure
Make it a habit to use a VPN whenever you connect to the internet. A VPN establishes a secure and encrypted connection, routing your data through other servers to make it unreadable. It make a public network private, protecting you as you use your home wifi or if you ever use a public wifi connection outside of the office. We’d recommend always checking your VPN is on when you work from home or remotely.
Create Different User Accounts
If there’s more than one of you using the same computer, create different user accounts for your other family members or friends. Put a password on your account, and that’ll keep your work and data safe and secure because nobody else will be able to access it.
Your Internet Browser
We’d recommend only using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox as they’re the most secure browsers. Keep them updated so you’re protected from all the latest threats. We’d also not advise using any Google Chrome extensions, as they can be a source of viruses.
Improve Your Password Security
A strong password is your biggest line of defence against the internet baddies. Non-sequential letters or numbers, a spattering of capital letters and steering clear of using your birthdate are good places to start!
Read this article to find out exactly how to improve your password security.
Use 2FA or MFA
Two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication is an important method of securing your sensitive data. It involves a second (or multiple) layer of security to complete a login process, not just the inputting of a password. This means if your password is ever compromised, the hacker still has another barrier to get through (often an email with a code, or a text message).
This blog post explains 2FA more clearly for you.
Don’t Automatically Connect to your Wifi
Hackers can create a wifi within range of your devices that has the same name as your network. If your computer automatically connects to your network, there’s a chance it could unwittingly connect to the hacker’s network of the same name. Suddenly your data is compromised.
Be aware there are people out there trying to take advantage of the situation at present. Adopt a suspicious approach to emails, announcements and websites. Check the source of everything. Think twice before you click on anything. Educate yourself to the methods of phishers and hackers so you know what to look out for.
Most cyber security breaches originate internally through team member error. If you feel like you’ve done something that could have compromised your company data, get in touch with your IT department (or managed service provider like Smile IT) and let them know. It’s better to let them know than to hope it goes away. Even if you receive a suspicious email but don’t click on anything, it’s still advisable to let them know so they can advise the rest of the team.
There you go, hope that helps! We wish you well in your working from home experiences, and remember if you have any questions about how to keep your home office secure, technology or how an MSP can help you with remote work, please get in touch with Smile IT.
When he’s not writing tech articles or turning IT startups into established and consistent managed service providers, Peter Drummond can be found kitesurfing on the Gold Coast or hanging out with his family!