Working from home brings a lot more than the pressure of staying productive in an environment where you once used to unwind. It also brings the stress of potentially compromising a lot more than your personal documents and files in the unfortunate but not-so-unlikely event that you get infected with a computer virus or malware.
Are you concerned about the cybersecurity risks of working from home? If so, the following tips should help you keep your devices more secure and allow you to sleep better at night. The more of these tips you get to implement, the better. So without further ado, here’s what you should consider!
1. Have a dedicated device for work
When you’re at home all day, every day, the lines between work and personal life can easily blur. Don’t let this happen to the devices you’re using, for the lack of boundaries can cost you a lot.
You may pay bills or shop online for personal purposes, which subjects you to plenty of risks. And you may also share documents with other colleagues, joining conferences, downloading attachments, and staying in front of your web camera for business purposes, all of which are, again, actions that put you at risk.
Using separate work and personal devices should help you minimize the risks in each category. If one of these devices does get infected with viruses and malware without you knowing it, at least you’re not allowing it to extend on the other aspects of your personal or professional life.
If you have concerns regarding the costs of keeping your devices secure, check out this article with the best antiviruses for multiple devices.
2. Don’t let the kids come around your PC
When using a dedicated device for work, keep it like that! Do not allow children or other family members to use it for their leisure purposes.
As tempting as it is, and as much as they promise to stay away from shady websites, these days, it’s hard to say which websites are safe. So, the safest way is to prevent any unauthorized access.
If you don’t have the luxury of using separate devices for work and leisure, at least make sure to check your antivirus’s parental controls. Tweak those until you’re 100% confident that you’re limiting the access as much as you can.
3. Use security software
It goes without saying that if you want to keep your computer safe while you work from home, you need to install security software on it. It’s up to you to choose one of the many options, but my advice is to consider your day-to-day activities and make sure your AV will support you with all of them.
For instance, if you’re supposed to stay in conferences all day long, consider your AV’s webcam security features.
If you’re on your email all day long, consider the email protection you’re getting.
And so on. The point here is that you’re not just looking for security software. You’re looking for the best you can get, depending on your job’s particularities. Or the type of device you’re using.
4. Keep an eye on your router
Like any other internet-connected device, your home router or modem can be hacked. Since it’s the gateway to the internet for all the other devices on your property, it’s even worse if it gets compromised.
So, better make sure that your home router has a secure user name and password, runs on up-to-date software, and that its model is not reflected in any way in the SSID!
Feel free to learn more on modem security from our comprehensive guide here.
5. Keep your OS up-to-date
Your OS is software, and even though there is malware that attacks hardware out there, the most significant challenges would still regard the operating system and other software components.
From this perspective, just to be on the safe side, you need to activate the automatic updates. That way, the moment some security patch is released, you’ll have it installed on your work computer, thus making sure you’re as protected as you possibly can.
Once you get an automatic update, you still have to manually confirm the device’s restart for the update to become active. This goes to say that you should never ignore the system notification you’re getting!
6. Keep all your software up-to-date
If you’ve covered the OS updates part, make sure you don’t forget about all your other programs. Pay attention to your web browser, in particular, since it’s one of the most targeted software. And how could it not be since a big chunk of your remote work will happen through it?
Shortly put, you need to check the settings on the software you frequently use and be constantly aware whether it’s set to automatic updates or if you need to look for the latest versions and install the updates yourself.
It could also be a good idea to check if your antivirus software has any PC optimization function that would allow it to notify you of necessary software updates.
7. Use a VPN
Virtual private networks significantly reduce the risks of traffic interceptions and MITM attacks. Especially if you find yourself occasionally leaving the house to work from a coffee shop or somewhere else where you’ll have to rely on public Wi-Fi, a VPN will be your best friend.
It will give you an encrypted connection to rely on, which will keep your traffic and data secure. This is precisely what you want when you use your work resources from any other place that isn’t your office and where your employer isn’t responsible for ensuring your connectivity security.
8. Secure your accounts with a password manager
Your work may imply connecting to all sorts of accounts, websites, and services. Using the same password on more than one account is a classic mistake you’ll want to avoid. Go ahead and set up unique, strong passwords for your accounts. No need to do it for all your accounts – just the ones you wouldn’t like to be hacked, you know what I mean? (wink).
All jokes left aside, data breaches are pretty common, and you can never know when a website or service you have been using suffered such a breach. When that happens, all the accounts where you use the same password as the one that was compromised will be at risk.
With a reliable password manager by your side, you can secure all your accounts with individual passwords, even with two- or multi-factor authentication, and not worry that you’ll get into trouble by forgetting any of them.
9. Demand access to a centralized storage solution
The security of your work is as strong as the weakest of your devices. The more different storage solutions you and your colleagues are using, the higher the odds of getting into trouble.
With a centralized storage solution, be it a server or cloud storage, you will no longer have to store files locally. You’ll also benefit from a backup in case that you somehow lose the work you’ve been handling on your device so far. And, overall, you’ll be getting enhanced security because solid firewalls protect those storage solutions.
I urge you to ask your employer about facilitating such a solution!
10. Consider how you approach conference calls
Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you won’t have to interact with your colleagues through voice or video calls. For your security and privacy, try only to share the minimum amount of information during those meetings.
A sliding webcam cover, or using a blur background feature from the videoconferencing app, could come in handy. Same with using a directional microphone, which will ensure that your colleagues will only hear what you’re talking into your microphone and not what your kids or spouse are yelling in the background.
These are some of the essential cybersecurity tips when working for home. If you stick to them, you’re way ahead of many other people who work from outside their offices.
But if you want to take it a step further, go ahead and ask your boss if he has any documented work-from-home security policy.
Such a policy might help you pick up on a few other best practices specific to the nature of your job and that your employer may be more aware of.
You know what they say – when it comes to cybersecurity, there’s no such thing as doing too much!