If 2020 has a positive theme, it’s one of adapting and overcoming difficult times. As the world shut down over the course of a few short weeks, many businesses were left trying to figure out how to move from an office-based workforce to primarily remote. Entire IT teams jumped into action to prepare the necessary technology and, in some cases, moved entire teams into homes and remote locations. While it may not have been perfect for many, the fact that this task was completed within weeks was a momentous accomplishment. For some, that shift has become a permanent #WFH reality while others are in some form of long-term in and out of the office as we begin to figure out what normal will be long-term. As with most things that are done in a hurry, it’s a good idea to take a step back and fill in the missing links that may have been overlooked in the rush. Whatever your situation, you need to be extra aware of the basic security steps necessary to keep you and your business safe.
Know the Difference Between Your Home and Work Network
Your antivirus software is the first line of defense for you and your company. While you’re in the office and connected to your internal network, you’re likely covered by a robust antivirus software. This software protects you from downloading malware or even going on websites that have questionable links. At home, you may not be covered by the same security. When you have to use your work computer at home, you increase the risk of someone or something attacking your files while using your home network. When working from home, you should utilize your organization’s Virtual Private Network or VPN to make sure you’re not exposing sensitive information.
Use a VPN
VPNs secure your computer by hiding it from hackers who are trying to breach your computer or network. VPN accomplish this in one of a few ways but mainly by saying your computer is connected to a different server. This can help disguise your connection from any prying eyes that are on the same WiFi connection as you. If you’re not using a VPN, there is potential for someone using the same network to easily steal your information. This information can be as small as an IP address to more important information like passwords giving bad actors access to even more sensitive data within your organization. While using a VPN, all of your data is encrypted, protecting you and your devices and your business’ data.
Keep Your Devices Up To Date
While Antivirus software and VPNs are an excellent way to protect your computer from most attacks, some attacks look for other vulnerabilities in your computer itself. When companies release updates to devices and software, they generally include patches for known vulnerabilities to minimize your risk for attack. If you fail to promptly update your devices, the clock is ticking on how long you’ll remain safe.
When you forgo an update to your devices, you run the risk of an attack through the same vulnerabilities the update fixed. Hackers utilize this weakness to penetrate your computer as an entryway to your company by deleting critical files or using keyloggers to find passwords and usernames. By updating your devices, you lower the risk of this happening.
Use Complex Passwords
Password safety is one of the most important aspects of security. There are multiple ways to keep your passwords secure, but the most advised is complex passwords. The length and complexity of passwords can keep most hackers out because the more and varied the characters are, the less easy they are to guess. One drawback to this strategy is that it’s harder to remember these passwords. One trick to remember these passwords is to use passphrases instead. These could be quotes, titles, or other long phrases with unique characters and numbers woven in for good measure. An even better method is utilizing a password manager. Most password managers give suggested passwords and can store them on your devices for future use.
Take Time for Yourself
Taking care of yourself is a great way to keep your home office secure. When you are in a calm, comfortable environment, you work better and more aware of questionable items. In a hectic environment, you can fall for scams you would otherwise notice.
- Find a quiet area to work.
- Limit outside distractions from family or roommates.
- Be sure to take breaks.
You might be home, but you aren’t a robot; take a walk, get a snack or drink, and stretch. The healthier you are, the more likely you are to keep you and your devices safe.
Though many things have changed due to the pandemic, keeping your work devices secure is still the status quo. By keeping up with your security measures, we’ve outlined here, you reduce the risk of losing personal information and critical work documents. The world might be different, but security will always be necessary.