Working from home opens up new possibilities, but also comes with new risks. While organizations are restructuring how their employees are connecting, opportunists are trying to take advantage of any weaknesses they can find. But don’t worry. By taking a few extra steps and remaining vigilant, you can protect your network from being hacked and your data from scammers.
Step 1: Stay up to date.
Most computers come with built-in security applications and a quick internet search will show dozens of robust and premium options. Setting these programs to update automatically ensures that as hackers evolve, so will your protection. In addition, keeping your software updated is necessary. Most programs release security patches as part of their periodic updates.
Step 2: Keep regular backups
Weekly or even daily backups to a password-protected external hard drive or to a secure cloud are an excellent idea for anyone relying on technology to store and protect their data. Hardware failure is a constant possibility, so keep redundant drives of your most important information.
Step 3: Create (and recreate) strong passwords
Security experts recommend all passwords be at least 12 characters longs and include a mix of both lower and upper case letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using duplicate passwords to minimize risk. Routinely changing all of your passwords is another great habit.
Step 4: Add Layers to your security
Wherever possible, utilize Two-Factor Identification (2FA). Set your laptop and/or desktop to lock automatically when you close it or turn off the monitor. Never leave your laptop anywhere in public, open or closed. In addition, you can take the extra step and store your most sensitive data in password-protected folders.
Step 5: Only use encrypted Wifi connections
Be sure your wifi network is password-protected and private, as either WPA2 or WPA. This way, hackers can’t use other insecure devices on your network to observe your online activity. Should you ever need to share a network or use a public connection, consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to cloak your IP address and provide another layer of protection? Many alternate browsers provide this as a built-in option, such as Brave, Firefox, and Iridium.
Step 6: Don’t forget about physical theft
With so much focus on cyber-security, don’t forget that old-fashioned burglary is still a threat. Be careful to shred any physical documents that contain sensitive information before disposing of them. Also, store your backup hard drives in a different location than your computer.
Step 7: Separate work from personal whenever possible
Getting personal data intermingled with work data not only puts it at risk but increases the odds that a hacker can find a backdoor into your work network. Besides the practical benefits or separating work life from personal life, protecting your privacy is an important step towards collective security.
Use the services provided by your company for all messaging, email, and file storage. Cloud services are one of the most secure and flexible options.
And most importantly: Careful where you click
No matter how carefully you hide it, scam artists and hackers will always be able to either find or guess email addresses, especially for businesses with personalized URLs. Be extra careful opening emails from any address you don’t recognize. And unless you know the sender, don’t open attachments. Doing so may expose not only you but your entire network to hackers.
With so many types of threats to consider and so many options for addressing each, it can be hard to build, maintain, and update cybersecurity systems.