Lifestyle

10 Tips to Work from Home Safely

In the last few years due to the pandemic, there’ve been many workforce changes, including many people working from home. But as more and more people completed work at home, hackers got busy looking for ways to breach security. If you want to ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep your and your company’s information safe, read on for some security tips.

1. Invest In Document Management

Document management is software that helps store and track all of your electronic documents. Not only can a document management system save you money and time by keeping your files easily accessible, but it also provides security benefits. If you go work out of documents or handle client information, a document management system can help provide you with security. Also, if you happen to experience a blackout or brownout, you have a better chance of keeping your documents safe and secure.

These systems are typically encrypted, requiring a key to access them. This means that even if a hacker tries to access your files, they won’t be able to because of the encryption system as well as two-factor authentication. With your document management software, you can also choose who has access to your files making it the ultimate safety measure while you work from home.

2. Ensure you have WIFI security

It’s safe to assume that you already have WIFI for your home office, but do you know if your WIFI is secure? Secure WIFI means that you need a password or encryption key to access your wifi network. A secure home network helps reduce the risk that someone can access your network, and in turn your files and information. WIFI is a lot easier to access than you think, and once somebody has made their way into it, it can be especially difficult to keep your information from being revealed and hacked or determine which information they’ve gained access to.

For added benefit, this means your wifi won’t be accessible to neighbors trying to get free internet out of you.

3. Avoid public WIFI

Coffee shops, libraries, and more have become commonplace spots to get some work down. While doing work in a public space allows you an opportunity to get out of the house, they leave you vulnerable to cybercriminal attacks. We mentioned above that ensuring WIFI security is essential to working from home safely, but public WIFI has no security strategies for its users. Public WIFI, as the name entails, is available to everyone who has the password, if they even have one at all. While you may not expect that someone at your local coffee shop is trying to steal your information, unfortunately, these kinds of crimes are especially common when using public WIFI. If you can’t give up working at a cafe or the airport, instead of logging into the public WIFI, opt for a different method, such as using your own personal hotspot with a password.

4. Use strong passwords

Using a strong password may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people use the same password over and over again for different websites. Not only that, but it’s common for users to create a password easy to remember, but that means they can be easy to guess as well.

When you utilize a strong password, you make it much harder for hackers and their systems to log in. A strong password generally is at least 12 characters long, contains a mixture of both upper and lower case letters, and includes numbers and special characters. You can also make your password a phrase to make it easy for you to remember, but harder for others to guess.

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5. And Password Managers

In addition to strong passwords, consider using a password manager if you forget your passwords or just want added security. Password managers can store all your passwords and auto-fill your login information when you go onto a website. Not only that, password managers will even suggest strong passwords and you’re able to make your passwords even more unique because you don’t have to worry about forgetting them.

Password managers also typically use encryption for added security. So this means you’ll either need an encryption key or two-factor authentication to access all of your passwords. Password managers are a great way to keep your passwords all in one place without having to worry about forgetting them or getting your information stolen.

6. Enable two-factor authentication

We’ve already mentioned two-factor authentication a few times, but you may be wondering what it is. Two-factor authentication verifies your identity through a couple of methods. The first is your password, but you’re also required to complete additional authentication to access your things. These other methods of authentication can include an encryption key, getting a code sent to your phone or email, or even through fingerprint if you’re handling something very secure.

You may see the option to “enable two-factor authentication” on your email or various other websites where you need to log in. Always enable two-factor authentication, especially if you work from home to have that added security protection.

7. Keep your work laptop for work

If you’re working from home, it’s vital to keep your work laptop and personal devices separate. In the case that someone accesses one computer, let’s say your personal computer gets hacked, then your work computer and files will remain unaffected. Your everyday personal browsing isn’t as careful as the searches you do at work, and using your work laptop for personal use can leave your computer vulnerable.

When you connect personal accounts to your work laptop, you’re opening up your secure work files to external risks. Not only that but keeping the two separate can help you establish a routine and habit, allowing you to separate your work life from your personal life more easily.

8. Get Antivirus software

While we’ve offered a lot of methods for you to take your work-from-home security seriously, the most important thing may be to invest in antivirus software. Your work laptop and software are an investment, and you want to keep those investments protected! Antivirus software can help prevent getting any computer viruses, malware, and any security risks you are exposed to daily (and trust us, there’s a lot). Antivirus software is typically pretty affordable, and it is worth every penny if it means keeping your information and technology safe and secure.

9. VPNs for Extra Security

We’ve talked a lot about encryption and other security tips, but if you’re extra paranoid or handle very sensitive business or client information, you may want to consider investing in a VPN service. VPN stands for “virtual private network” and it works to protect your internet connection and privacy while you spend time online. VPNs also allow you to choose who can access your network and information making it extremely secure in comparison to just using a public network.

10. IT Security Training

IT security training is important, especially if many people from your company are going remote. Security awareness training can help your company mitigate risks by training your employees about internet security. Every day hackers are employing new technologies and methods to access sensitive information so it’s important for employees to be aware of some of the signs that a hacker is trying to steal their information. This training can offer insights on recognizing suspicious links, software, or even emails and texts and help prevent any security breaches.

11. Avoid third-party software

While it’s normal for almost every business to utilize third-party apps and software for different business processes, you can’t always be sure that these apps are prioritizing security. This is why it is so important to only install applications and services approved by your company. Avoiding third-party software can help you maintain security and protect your information.

12. Be wary of suspicious links and emails

One of the most common threats to employees working from home is the constant messaging and emails from cyber criminals. Cybercriminals will send emails disguised as real people from your company in the hopes you reveal private information. When opening any email, website, or attachment, always be wary of the sender, even if it looks like someone you know. Additionally, if you get a link in a message, run your mouse over the link, but don’t click it. This reveals the URL of the link, and not what it’s disguised as in the anchor text.

If you do come across an email, text message, or any other form of messaging, but are unsure whether it can be a cyber-attack attempt, forward the message to your digital security or IT team. They can let you know whether the message is authentic or not and advise you on how to move forward.

13. Enable Automatic Locking

If your work provides you with a laptop or computer, you must enable automatic locking. Automatic locking is when your computer goes to sleep after being idle for a given amount of time. It’s easy to forget to close your computer while away, but when you do, you leave your computer vulnerable to suspicious individuals taking a look at what you’re working on. This can get private information into the hands of people who want to use it for nefarious purposes.

14. Update Your Operating System

Failing to keep your operating system up-to-date can leave your laptop vulnerable to cyber attacks. System updates aren’t just about helping your laptop perform better with new features, but typically also come with necessary security upgrades. If you’re someone who gets lazy when it comes to installing your laptop’s latest software updates, attempt to make it a habit. Many computers and laptops also allow for automatic update preferences, so the computer will automatically update and restart while you’re away from your laptop.

15. Install Device Trackers

Depending on the brand of tech you rely on, it can benefit your company’s security and privacy to install device tracking software. Some brands, such as Apple, have a “find my device” feature that allows you to easily locate where your devices are. In the case you accidentally lose a company device or get it stolen, you’ll be glad you can track it down.

These apps are also great because they allow you to automatically lock devices that may be in the hands of suspicious individuals. If you believe your laptop or work-related device has been stolen, you can turn it off and lack it so it’s of no use to the criminal.

Securely working from home

While we agree, working from home is the best, there are precautions you and your company should take to ensure your corporate information is protected. By mitigating security risks, you can help your company run smoothly and avoid losing money or reputation. Companies must do what they can to protect their business and employees while they work from home.

Author:

Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who loves to share knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.

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