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Due to the recent pandemic, the number of people working from home increased dramatically as countries worldwide enforced lockdown periods. Businesses and employees alike found new advantages – but also challenges such as staying safe online.
Cybersecurity has been an increasing headache for companies as threats increase in volume and complexity. Staying safe online while working from home requires not just the right tools but the proper mindset.
Here are some of the ways you can stay safe while working from home;
1. Always Use Internet Security Software
Internet security has today evolved past basic antivirus needs. While you can still use antivirus software, it’s preferable to opt for application suites instead. These offerings typically include antivirus, firewalls, WiFi scanners, and more combined in a single package.
The threats we face online today aren’t just viruses but have increased to encompass a broad spectrum. Internet security suites can help protect you against everything from ransomware to phishing attacks.
They are also relatively inexpensive subscriptions, with licenses often covering multiple devices per subscription. This licensing model can help protect the numerous devices used for work, such as your PC, laptop, and smartphone, at the same time.
2. Consider a Virtual Private Network Service
Virtual Private Network (VPN) services are privacy and security-oriented. They allow you to connect to a remote server before routing Internet requests to destinations. Any data sent through the server is encrypted during the connection, keeping it safe from prying eyes.
This process achieves two main objectives; It masks your point of origin and prevents hackers from stealing data. In many cases, this level of security is necessary to secure connections to company assets like servers.
3. Use Strong Passwords
Many of us have been guilty of using short and simple passwords repeatedly. We sign up for so many web-based services that numerous accounts are needed. The result is an out-of-control ecosystem that has led to these bad habits.
Simple passwords like “password,” “123456,” and “P455word” simply aren’t challenging for today’s cybercriminals to crack. If you re-use passwords, the exposure of a single one may result in multiple accounts getting compromised.
Where possible, use complex passwords that include a mixture of:
- Upper and lowercase characters
- Numeric digits
- Special characters (e.g., #, @, and ~)
If this makes things too difficult for you to remember, many browsers today have a built-in password autofill feature. Even better, make use of a secure password manager like LastPass.
4. Browse and Download Cautiously
Most work-related websites we visit are generally safe, but even the best work email often gets phished. While Internet security software can prevent this, add a dash of common sense to perfect the system.
Always be cautious of the links you’re clicking on – even if it comes from a customer or colleague’s account. Also, be prudent about the sites you visit since some may try to implant malware on your system.
Where possible, avoid visiting websites that don’t use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates. Today, many browsers will indicate this with some form of visual notification on the address bar when you try to visit a website.
5. Backup, Backup, and Backup!
The golden rule of storing data on any device is always to have backups. If some problem arises (such as device crashes or data corruption), you can quickly restore and return to work. With the right backup software, you won’t have to worry about missing a backup either.
Some applications such as Acronis Cyber Backup only need to be set up once. The application will then run smoothly on its own, making copies at the intervals you specified. It’s simple and essential that you do this.
6. Enable Your Router Firewall
Firewalls inspect data transmitted to and from your devices to ensure nothing harmful gets through. While Operating Systems like Windows or some Internet security applications include them, they may not cover all devices at home.
Many routers today include a built-in firewall you can enable. Turning this service will blanket-cover all devices at home, right from the point that data enters.
7. Increase Your WiFi Protection
While connecting to devices with network cables is pretty safe, it’s often more convenient to use WiFi. The problem is that hackers can intercept WiFi signals, potentially leading to data theft or even compromised home networks and devices.
Increasing the level of your WiFI security can help prevent this. Most routers will support various WiFi network encryption standards. It ranges from open (unprotected) to WEP, WPA, WPA2, and soon, even WPA3.
At this point, WPA2 is the most secure and compatible with many devices. Check if you’re using good WiFi encryption by logging in to your router administration interface and checking under the “WiFi” or “Wireless” tab.
8. Keep Applications Updated
Every application we use, including the Operating Systems on your devices, will likely get updates and patches. Never ignore this as they may introduce new features and often include bug or vulnerability fixes.
Microsoft Windows, for example, is known for constant updates that sometimes bring new experiences. More than that, the updates almost always include vulnerability flaw repairs that will keep you safer while working from home.
Remember that each application needs to be updated individually – even if they sit on your system unused.
9. Use Two-Factor Authentication Where Possible
Many services online today have enabled two-factor authentication (2FA). This system introduces an additional layer of security that works above and beyond the standard username and password combination.
When 2FA is enabled, you will have to use another device (such as a mobile phone) to either supply a code or approve the login. It helps increase security remarkably since hackers will need access to more than just login credentials to access your accounts.
10. Consider Getting a Hardware Key
You may be familiar with a house key, car key, or even safety deposit key – but have you heard of a hardware key? No, it isn’t a real key you use to turn on hardware but allows you to access some websites and services securely.
This hardware key is personalized to unlock some websites. The main difference between this and a password is that you need to insert the physical key into a device to access the site or service. Without the key, there’s simply no way anyone can get in.
While it may not yet be very common, you can still obtain them online from brands such as Yubico.
How To Reduce Data Privacy & Security Risk While Working From Home
The ten tips shared here are just a few of the ways you can work from home more securely. Remember, ensuring you stay safe isn’t just about protecting devices and services with the right tools. Having the proper mindset towards how you use the Internet is equally important.
About the Author
Jason is the outreach manager and digital marketer from WebRevenue.io, a company that provides digital marketing for startups and online businesses. Jason loves to blog about his experience in web marketing.