How to Stay Secure When Working From Home

How to Stay Secure When Working From Home

Since the global lockdown, working from home has become the norm for countless of us across the world. How can you best protect your devices, your company and yourself whilst working from home? 

During these challenging times, cyber criminals and cyber security threats continue to be a menace. There has already been a clear increase in COVID-19 related phishing attempts and cyber­ crime that specifically targets people working from home. Despicable, but what can we say...? They are criminals: They exploit weaknesses and remote workers can be an easy target for a large payload. 

While working from home remains the standard, we all need to remain extra vigilant, re-evaluate our cyber security practises and protect ourselves from cyber crime. After all, it's not just your data on the line, it's the company's too.

THE PHYSICAL SECURITY OF YOUR HOME OFFICE

When following cyber security best practises, people often forget this starts with the device's physical location and potential accessibility.

Firstly, think about the security of your working from home office: Are doors locked at night? Can people easily see your screen? Are their children or others who may “play” with your devices when away?

Locking your screen or device when you are away is a quick and easy way to protect your work. Be sure to use a strong password and update it regularly.

Always keep your personal and professional devices separate. This includes mobiles, laptops, tablets and any desktops. If one has been hacked with malware or spyware, it could compromise the other device. Leaving you and your company at risk.

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Always keep your personal and professional devices separate. This includes mobiles, laptops, tablets and any desktops. If one has been hacked with malware or spyware, it could compromise the other device. Leaving you and your company at risk.

SYSTEM ACCESS & COLLABORATIVE TOOLS

Normally, any system access issues would be handled by your IT team, including vetting new tools, security updates and password reminders or refreshes. When working from home, part of this responsibility falls to you

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It's vital to stay on top of system and program updates, plus your passwords.

Not the first time you've heard this, nor will it be the last - Pick strong passwords and change these frequently. We categorically don't recommend password1 or adminadmin.

You should always consider the security of any video conferencing, team chats or any other applications for team collaboration. Our team tends to use slack and zoom. 

You should always consider the security of any video conferencing, team chats or any other applications for team collaboration. Our team tends to use slack and zoom. 

Your IT team should also have made it clear that you should never download any unauthorised software or use online tools for work without being vetted by the company.

SECURE ONLINE CONNECTIONS

Your connection becomes less secure when you connect outside of your workplace network. You should never share company data over public WiFi or an insecure connection. 

Whilst working from home, any services or files you access are at a higher risk of attack. Always ensure you use a strong password for your WiFi router and that isn't generally accessible.

A simple trick is to check the beginning of every website address to ensure it is HTTPS and never HTTP.

Using a hotspot on your personal mobile seems like a simple solution when you're having trouble connecting your work laptop to the internet.

However, if your phone has been compromised by spyware, your work laptop, network access and company data could also be jeopardised!

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Using a hotspot on your personal mobile seems like a simple solution when you're having trouble connecting your work laptop to the internet.

However, if your phone has been compromised by spyware, your work laptop, network access and company data could also be jeopardised!

CYBER SECURITY BEST PRACTICES

Rule number one of cyber security is to install anti-virus software on all your devices, whether they are professional or personal.

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Employees occasionally use personal emails to receive work documents to keep working on them from home. It's convenient and seems safe enough.

However, any data transferred or stored outside of the company network is potentially at risk and could be in breach of GDPR regulations.

Like your mobile hotspot, a personal email could have been unknowingly compromised and be unsafe for company data. This is especially risky if your email account has a weak password that hasn't been changed for many years.

Like your mobile hotspot, a personal email could have been unknowingly compromised and be unsafe for company data. This is especially risky if your email account has a weak password that hasn't been changed for many years.

Last year, misdirected emails were the leading cause of online data breaches. Whilst working from home, you are more likely to contact people via email and this risk becomes even greater.

Be sure to double-check before hitting send: Does this email contain any highly sensitive information? Does my company allow this kind of information to be emailed? Have I verified the person or company receiving the email? Are there any mistakes in spelling or typing?

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Mistakes will happen, especially whilst juggling challenging times with new ways of working. If you think there has been a security breach or you have received a suspicious email, you should immediately report it to whoever handles your IT.

By sharing the information, you can help protect your organisation and prevent the issue from happening again or others from making the same mistake. 

If your company needs help with cyber security training and best practices, we use tools like Cybsafe to educate and raise awareness. By learning from human errors, we can help to reduce this risk factor. You can also find more Secure Home Working tips via the National Cyber Security Centre.

Contact us to learn more. 

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