The health crisis has caused many companies to decide and let their employees stay at home and work remotely. Businesses have been forced to adhere to strict social distancing measures and implement health protocols to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Although the transition to the work-from-home setup appears seamless to many businesses, there are unseen security risks that come with it. And to ensure business continuity, they have to provide their employees with the necessary tools and technologies to make it possible to work from home. This is obviously a challenge to the entire business, not only for their respective IT departments.
Now, employees, on their part, can do something to make the WFH transition seamless, and at the same time, minimize the security risks involved. In this article, we’ll enumerate some handy tips to protect any forms of data when working from home.
Tip #1: Protect your home office
Cybersecurity and information protection must begin with the physical setup. The same as when you shut down your office computer when you wrap up your day, you have to do the same when you’re working from home.
At home, there is a chance that your devices can get stolen. So, when you go out for lunch or when you prepare dinner, lock the screen of your device. This is an important tip to secure your home office.
Tip #2: Secure your router
After protecting your home office, the next thing you should do is to secure your router. Cybercriminals nowadays take advantage of the default passwords of routers because not many users bother to change it. As a result, their home network becomes vulnerable and at risk.
Changing the password of your router from the default to something strong and unique is an easy step to protect your network from threats. Once you have changed the password, you can take further security measures, such as installing firmware updates.
Tip #3: Keep personal and work devices separate
This may sound easier said than done, but it is essential to set boundaries between your personal and work life, especially when working from home.
Yes, there are instances when you need to log in to your device to perform a quick online transaction. But as much as possible, keep your personal and work computer separate. Otherwise, both personal and work information will be compromised in the event of a data breach.
Tip #4: Make sure to encrypt your device
If your device hasn’t been encrypted yet, enable it as soon as you can. This can help in reducing the risks involved when devices get stolen or lost. When encryption is enabled, strangers and cybercriminals cannot access files and information without the PIN or password.
How you enable encryption depends on the device that you are using. For Windows devices, you can use third-party tools and apps like BitLocker. For macOS, FileVault can be used.
Tip #5: Update your operating system
Ensure all the devices you use for work are updated. If security patches for the operating system are available, install them right away. Though some modern devices will automatically install the updates for you, sometimes you need to manually restart your PC to apply the changes.
Tip #6: Keep your applications up to date
Always remember that operating systems are not the only aspects that can be exploited by hackers. Any applications or programs can also be targets. So, just like your operating system, it is important to keep any installed program or app up to date.
Tip #7: Set your device to automatically lock when not used
If you are on break, lock your computer or device. While many already practice this, by nature, humans tend to forget. So, to prevent the worse from happening, set your PC to lock automatically when unattended.
Set a specific amount of time that is reasonable. For desktops, five minutes is ideal. But for mobile devices, 30 seconds is recommended.
Tip #8: Use a strong password
All the previous tips will be useless if you don’t use a unique password. If possible, do not use a password that is easy to guess. Also, do not repeat number sequences nor use common passwords.
When generating passwords, you can use a password manager. This way, you can keep yourself from using any information that is related to you, such as your contact number or home address. A strong password is one that looks random to any stranger. Think you’re safe? Here’s how long it takes a hacker to guess your password.
Tip #9: Install an anti-malware suite
An anti-malware program can protect your PC from threats like spyware, ransomware, Trojans, and other malware entities. As the name suggests, an anti-malware suite is a program designed to work against threats. It can identify threats and remove them from your system.
Tip #10: Enable two-factor verification
Two-factor authentication is a new authentication method that only grants access to a user when two pieces of evidence are presented to an authentication mechanism. This method has been used to reduce the risk of malware infections and phishing scams. With this authentication method, the attackers cannot log into an account because they don’t have access to another piece of evidence.
Tip #11: Clean and wipe any devices before sharing or disposing of them
Yes, you can always clean up your junk files and folders, but that isn’t enough. Expert hackers can still access your data when you just delete them temporarily. What you should do is return your devices to factory settings should you plan to lend, give away, or throw them.
Tip #12: Use a VPN
If you are trying to access data from your company’s servers, make sure you use a virtual private network. This private network secures your data, allowing you to send and receive packets safely, anytime, and anywhere. A VPN establishes an encrypted network over the internet, so all your traffic is routed through it.
We can never tell how long this COVID-19 pandemic will last. What we can conclude as of the moment is that this health crisis will force people to continue working from home. So, to adapt to the new normal and keep information secure, consider these tips and equip yourself with basic PC repair knowledge.