In recent years, working from home has exploded in popularity. In fact, according to Pew Research, 59% of employees believe their job can be done from the comfort of home “all or most of the time.” With remote work here to stay, employees must adapt to the unique challenges working from home presents. Luckily, there are plenty of exciting devices out there to make your home office more sophisticated and secure, like wireless mesh networks.
But unfortunately, awesome tech and annoying security holes often go hand in hand. And remote employees don’t have a dedicated IT team on-site to address cybersecurity issues like their office counterparts. Therefore, remote work puts more of a burden on employees to protect sensitive business information. But never fear. By following cybersecurity best practices, you can avoid online threats and keep your computer and phone secure.
How to prioritize security as a remote worker
Although remote work brings many benefits, it brings new responsibilities as well — including the need to protect your work devices and from security threats without IT looming constantly over your shoulder. Businesses should do their part to help remote employees keep their devices and information secure. But as a worker, it’s important to take steps to protect your remote working setup as well.
Secure your home WiFi network
In a traditional office, WiFi networks usually have protections in place to prevent hackers from accessing network devices. At home, you’ll need to secure your home WiFi network to avoid security breaches and to avoid the other challenges that come with BYOD.
When you first set up your home WiFi network, your router comes with a default, automatic password. Creating a strong and unique password for your network prevents cybercriminals from easily guessing your log-in information. Changing the SSID (the name of your wireless network) makes it more challenging for people to identify your network. Don’t use personal information like your name, address, or important dates for your network’s name or password.
Separate your work and personal devices
When working from home, avoid mixing up your personal and business devices. Using your personal device for work raises the risk of exposing sensitive business data, as your home computer may not have the same security measures as your business device.
Also, keep your devices secure by following the principle of least privilege. Never give your family members access to your work devices under any circumstances. While you’re making efforts to stay up to date on the latest cybersecurity measures, other people in your household may not be.
Connect to a VPN
Connecting to your company’s VPN, or Virtual Private Network, provides an extra level of protection from security threats for both your computer and phone. But it can also potentially create new weaknesses in your remote work setup. If cybercriminals access your company’s VPN through your home network, they can infiltrate your workplace’s network and access information on other devices. Your company should ensure its VPN maintains secure encryption and uses a strong authentication method. Only use your company’s VPN when necessary. Turn off your VPN when using your work devices for personal use.
Use strong passwords
The simplest way to protect your work device while working from home is to set strong passwords and regularly change them to avoid a security breach. From your computer and phone, to your home WiFi network, to your email accounts, strong passwords provide a layer of security that prevents breaches. Create passwords of at least 12 characters that include a combination of numbers, symbols and capital and lower-case letters. For additional protection, use two-factor authentication for important work accounts.
Avoid phishing scams
Phishing scams can be either painfully easy or frustratingly tough to spot, depending on the skill level of the cybercriminal. Hackers send phishing emails or text messages to gain access to confidential information or infect your devices with malicious software. Whether working from home or in the office, you could be targeted with a phishing scam. Phishing emails often look legitimate, since the goal is to trick you into clicking on a link or downloading an attachment that contains malware. To avoid the risk of phishing attacks such as social security and gift card scams, only open messages from people you know and be cautious when downloading files.
Use anti-virus software
Anti-virus software runs discretely in the background of your devices and provides protection from ransomware attacks, malware, and other cybersecurity breaches. By scanning files and programs on your device, antivirus software detects malicious code and deletes it before it can damage your device. Modern anti-virus software updates automatically to protect against the newest viruses and malware.
Cover your webcam
Webcams allow you to connect with colleagues or clients from the comfort of your own home. But they also open your device up to new cybersecurity threats. With the right skills and knowledge, devious hackers can remotely access your webcam and compromise your privacy.
To avoid inadvertently putting your life on display to some creepy, prying stranger, unplug external webcams when you aren’t using them. Also, cover your built-in laptop camera with a sticky note unless you’re attending a meeting or video chatting with friends. If you want to take your security a step farther, sliding webcam covers are easy to install and can be quickly uncovered for your next videoconference.
Work securely from anywhere in the world with Quantum Fiber
With hybrid and fully remote work becoming more common every day, following cybersecurity best practices at home ensures your business information stays safe no matter where you’re located. Avoid security risks by setting strong passwords, securing your home WiFi network and staying up to date with the latest anti-virus software. For more articles about keeping your devices safe, visit the Quantum Fiber blog.