8 Security Do’s and Don’ts When Working Remotely

Remote working has plenty of perks, whether it’s flexibility or a better work/life balance. But with all work being undertaken online, one of the greatest challenges remote workers face is protecting their data.

True enough, Cyber Ladies NYC CEO Sivan Tehlia outlines three major security hazards of remote work, namely: home Wi-Fi security, phishing scams via email, and insecure passwords. Any of these can be backdoors for serious breaches.

Luckily, navigating remote work doesn’t have to feel like walking on eggshells. By following the best practices and exercising caution, any professional can stay productive and free from potential attacks.

To this end, here are eight security do’s and don’ts when working from home.

The Do’s

1. Do install an antivirus software

The first step to secure a computer is to install antivirus software. After all, no user can completely protect their data at all times. At some point, malware will likely accidentally gain access to your computer.

But fortunately, it won’t get far if your device is protected by antivirus software. In general, you want a program with a high malware detection rate, like Bitdefender, Kaspersky Labs, and Norton.

If your computer is running on an older processor, then consider lighter systems like AVG and Avast so they won’t slow down your machine.

2. Do use a VPN

Just because your home Wi-Fi is private, doesn’t mean that it’s completely secure. In fact, cybersecurity studies on Gulf News inform how easy it is to hack into your home Wi-Fi network, thanks to its router.

From less than 4km away, hackers can run your router through several password combinations. Once they’re in, every device connected to your Wi-Fi becomes vulnerable. This is why a list of top remote working tools by HP includes a VPN, as it adds an extra layer of security whether you’re at home or traveling.

VPNs work by hiding your device’s address, making it impossible to find on any network. Software like ExpressVPN and NordVPN may come with a fee, but they will ensure that no breach enters from your network.

3. Do have strong passwords

Strong passwords don’t have to be lengthy; they just need to be unique. On that note, make sure all your passwords can’t easily be guessed—be it for your company email or own computer credentials. Ideally, they shouldn’t contain any personal information, like birthdays and names.

The best passwords are actually those that even you can’t remember. Password managers like Dashlane and LassPass can help you create complex combinations, and store them for authentication purposes. They’re encrypted too, so you won’t have to worry about them leaking.

4. Do delete your messages

From discussing project details with your boss to sending over bank account information to your clients, messages can contain a lot of sensitive information that hackers want.

As such, when you’ve finished reading messages, make it a habit to delete them. Alternatively, you can also utilize messaging apps like Telegram, which contain settings that automatically delete your messages after a set time period.

The Don’ts

1. Don’t ignore system updates

Cyber attacks evolve every day. Therefore, when your PC or app alerts you with a new system update, stop whatever you’re doing and install these changes. Updates often include patches for security vulnerabilities that have been uncovered since the last version of the software. If they’re not applied, then you’re leaving your data prone to the latest malware.

2. Don’t open suspicious links

You can have the safest computer in the world, but it will still be vulnerable to human error. Phishing scams are made to look believable and not suspicious. Usually, they may even come from a “trusted” sender, like your employer.

They will have links that, when clicked, will then either ask you for sensitive information or outright download malware into your PC. According to a report on The Verge, Gmail has seen more than 18 million malware and phishing emails related to today’s health crisis.

Now, more than ever is the time to be smart. Check the sender’s email address before reading the message itself. If it’s unfamiliar, delete it. If it’s suspicious-looking and/or impersonating a well-known organization, delete then report it. Vigilance is the key to protecting your data.

3. Don’t store all your information on the cloud

Though it’s convenient for collaboration purposes, the cloud shouldn’t be the only place you’re storing all your data. Tech correspondent Craig Smith informed that although cloud infrastructure itself is secure, its increasingly complex nature, combined with the number of people using it, has made it difficult to monitor the users who access it.

He cited plenty of incidents that involved cloud storage solutions, like Amazon S3 and Elasticsearch that lost a lot of data because of this. It’s still good practice to have local copies of your files—if only to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

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4. Don’t stay logged in

Even if you think your device is safe, your data will be safer if you always log out of your accounts—especially if they contain a lot of sensitive information like company emails. After all, you never know when suspicious users will come sneaking into your system.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can also change your passwords every month or so. This way, those who do have access can’t keep it for long.

Just remember: never be complacent. This is especially true when you’re working at home since you’re exposing your devices to more vulnerabilities. However, so long as you take the necessary precautions, you can ensure that your data remains protected.

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