Staying secure while working from home
Over the last decade, remote work and working from home has grown in popularity for many professionals. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown in many parts of the world have forced a large number of employees into unfamiliar territory—not just remote work, but full-time working from home (WFH).
Given these circumstances, we figured it would be useful to share some of the security tips we have for working from home.
Perhaps your office network was so protected that little thought was given to restricting access to servers with sensitive data. Or perhaps you now have to work on your personal laptop—one that you didn’t think much about securing before coronavirus upended your life.
Either way, it’s time to start thinking about the ways to guard against unauthorized access. If you think cybercriminals (and regular criminals) will be sensitive to global events and refrain from attacking remote workers, sadly, you’d be mistaken.
- Access to your computer’s desktop should at least be password protected, and the password should be a strong one. If the system is stolen, this will keep the thief from easily accessing company information.
- If office network permissions previously gave you unfettered access to work software, now you may be required to enter a variety of passwords to gain access. Consider using a password manager. It will be much more secure than a written list of passwords left on your desk.
- Encryption also helps protect information on stolen or compromised computers. Check whether data encryption is active on your work machine. If you’re not sure, ask your IT department whether you have it, and if they think it’s necessary.
- If you’re connecting your work computer to your home network, make sure you don’t make it visible to other computers in the network. If you have to add it to the HomeGroup, then make sure the option to share files is off. Somerset can help you check this.
Separate work and personal devices
It’s just as it’s important to carve out boundaries between work life and home life while working from home; the same is true of devices. Are your kids being homeschooled now and turning in digital assignments? Are you ordering groceries and food online to avoid stores? It’s best, whenever possible, not to use the same computer for these activities and work.
While it may seem like a chore to constantly switch back and forth between the two, do your best to at least keep your main work computer and your main home computer separate (if you have more than one such device). If you can do the same for your mobile devices—even better. The more programs and software you install, the more potential vulnerabilities you introduce.
- Don’t pay your home bills on your work computer. You can not only create confusion for yourself, but also end up compromising your personal information when a cybercriminal comes looking to breach your company.
- Don’t send work-related emails from your private email address and vice versa. Not only does it look unprofessional, but you are weaving a web that might be hard to untangle once the normal office routine resumes.
- Speaking of homeschooling, it’s especially important to keep your child’s digital curriculum separate from your work device. Both are huge targets for threat actors. Imagine their delight when they find they can not only plunder an organization’s network through an unsecured remote worker, but they can also collect personal information on young students, which garners a big pay day on the dark web.
This is a big adjustment for many people. Your first few days of working from home may leave you irritated, uncomfortable, unmotivated, or just plain exhausted. Adding security tips to the list may just add to your fatigue right now. We understand. Take it a day at a time, a step at a time.
When working from home, find a comfortable working area where you can assume a healthy posture, minimize the distraction from others, and where your presence has the least impact on how others have to behave. Take breaks to stretch your legs and give your eyes a rest. And if you enjoy working from home, now is the time to prove to your employer that it’s a viable option in the long run.