10 Work From Home Security Tips to Keep Your Data Safe
Working from home became quite a popular option, especially after the Covid 19 pandemic. Many companies have allowed workers to work remotely from the comfort of their own homes, mostly due to risks associated with health.
After the pandemic had passed, certain employers introduced a hybrid work model, which combined working from the office as well as working remotely. Some of them even introduced a fully remote work model. But, the caveat here is that security awareness is not the best one for most people.
Hence, whether you are working from home a few days a week or are one of those remote workers that work solely in their home office, these are our 10 work from home security tips and best practices to keep your data safe and to mitigate any security flaws that you may have.
Secure your home router
It is not uncommon for people to keep the default password of their router after they install it. After all, why bother changing it? What are the odds of someone attempting to access your WiFi network and stealing your sensitive data?
This mindset is not a very good one, both while remote working or just using your personal devices at home. It poses many security risks, including an opportunity for hackers to gain access to your work devices.
As a first step to secure your work from home experience, you should make sure that you are not using the default password on your router. To change it, you would need to open your internet browser and input the internal IP address into the address bar as if you were visiting a website. A login window should pop up where you would need to log in. There, under security settings, you should be able to change the password of your router.
Make sure to use a strong password there to secure your network fully and not to lose any sensitive information both about yourself and the company you are working for.
Use a VPN
VPN stands for "virtual private network," and it means exactly what it says on the tin. It is security software that allows you to create a private network within your existing networks. What are the merits of it, and what does it mean in simpler terms?
Simply put, when you use a VPN, you connect to a different server in some location, and your connection gets routed through it. As it goes through that different server, all your data gets encrypted there, meaning that no one can gain access to it, making your devices and network secure.
A lot of companies make their remote workers use VPN software as a security measure to provide remote access to the resources required while working from home. By utilizing it, you can access your office from your home and appear, at least virtually, as if you were there physically.
Not using a VPN both while working and while using your devices for entertainment poses a security risk, which can lead hackers to access sensitive data and sensitive information about you or your company.
Using a VPN on public WiFi is a must, regardless if you are using a certain device for work or for your own fun. Such networks are especially vulnerable to attacks done by hackers and could easily create risks, such as compromising your online accounts, be it business ones or personal social media ones.
As noted, most workplaces have already made VPN usage mandatory. Hence, your employer should provide you with it. If you wish to use a VPN for personal purposes, many free and paid solutions are available. You should check reviews for them and choose the one that suits you best. Most of them are very easy to install and use, so there is no reason not to!
Separate home and work devices
This is one of the few security tips that combine physical security with cybersecurity. While working from home, you may be tempted to use the devices provided by your company for personal use.
That is, you may be lazy to switch your work computer to your personal one to watch Netflix or something. Why bother, what is bad about it. You already have the computer running, you might as well have some fun. Once again, this practice could lead to various cybersecurity threats.
It all stems from the simple fact that the equipment provided by your company tends to be more secure than the equipment bought by you. Due to this, hackers consider users that do not separate their devices as easy targets. Once the devices are mixed up, they can gain access to sensitive data on your work computer by exploiting the personal accounts that you use on it.
For example, by using phishing attacks, they can gain access to your social media accounts and then full access to your work device via a variety of tools that they use. If you were not using your work devices for any personal purposes, this security risk would not happen. Only your personal data (which is not good either, think about applying these tips to your day-to-day life, too!) would be compromised, as opposed to sensitive company data.
You should also consider using separate emails for work-related things and personal use. This is pretty much for the same reasons provided above. Mixing those up could lead to leaked passwords, more risk due to phishing emails, and overall weakening of information security.
Use antivirus software
Another one of the home security tips regarding cybersecurity would be to use antivirus software. Some operating systems come with them built-in, whereas others are considered to be so secure that they do not require one. That is simply not true, though.
Having antivirus software installed is one of the best practices for security out there. Considering the vast amount of security software available, both free and paid, there is no reason not to use them.
Using an antivirus will protect your devices from a variety of risks, such as catching a malware virus, strange links used in phishing emails, and other exploits in network security that hackers may try to use against you. Without an antivirus, you risk your own data as well as your company data, which could prove costly in the long run for all remote workers out there.
Install software updates
While you are working from home and using some software required for it, a pop-up might appear informing you that a new version of this app is available. Thinking of it as annoying, you simply ignore it. You do the same the next day and then the next one.
You may not have thought that keeping your software outdated is one of the bigger security risks out there. One of the operating methods that hackers use is to look for exploits in software that were not yet patched and use them to attack systems. Updating your software means that those flaws are removed, and you are safe.
Understandably, warnings that there are new updates available could get annoying, especially if you are launching a certain app to do a certain quick task, and updating the software may seem like a hassle. However, think twice before ignoring it. Tools and flaws that the hackers use could compromise your network, your device, your passwords, and, most importantly, everything that is related to the business that you are working for.
Considering that all it takes is pressing a "yes" button and waiting for a few seconds or minutes could save you a lot of trouble and increase your security, it is worth it to just go ahead with the update and not worry about any cybersecurity risks that clicking "no" could cause.
Use strong passwords
Using strong passwords is one of the best practices if you strive for the best security on your devices. This concerns the passwords of your accounts as well as your computer itself if you are working from home.
Creating a strong password means having a password that has different letters, numbers, symbols, and all of that in it. Having a weak password of just one common word would mean that hackers could crack it in just mere seconds, compromising the security of your company and your devices.
Of course, remembering such passwords is a hassle on its own, which is why we would recommend using a password manager. Not only do they help you remember all of those strings of letters and numbers, but they also often offer to generate strong passwords for you. In case of an attack, your accounts will remain safe and sound, alongside your other passwords and other data that you may have on your computer.
Use two-factor authentication
Using two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible is a great way to boost your security on top of your strong password. What does two-factor authentication mean, though? It means using not one but two devices in order to let you use your operating system or other devices. For example, after inputting your password on your computer, you will be asked to confirm the login on your phone as well.
Needless to say, two should be enough, but there are multiple authentications available. That is, imagine it as an X factor authentication, with X being replaced with some number. The higher the number - the more devices you will need your confirmation in order to log in. This security software is very easy to install and use, and the solutions are offered by many providers, including, for example, Google.
Together with strong passwords, using 2FA is one of the best practices in the cybersecurity field and is often recommended as one of the most common security tips. It helps to secure your devices while you are working from home or in case any of your devices get stolen.
Let's say someone steals your physical device. The thief would attempt to log in to some accounts, but since they do not have access to the second device needed for authentication, they would not be able to log in. Simple as that!
Adding such a small thing prevents you from multiple threats and minimizes the risk of other people gaining access to your information. So, protect your device with this solution, do not wait for something bad to happen!
Beware of phishing attacks
Phishing is a type of security attack that works by imitating legitimate websites or emails. For example, you may receive an email to your computer regarding the new rules of remote working or a request to change your password.
It seems that the letter came from your employer or fellow employees, maybe even from some social media that you use constantly. It looks real, and it feels real, but it is not. By opening the links there and providing your password or any other information, you give hackers access to your network, compromising your remote working conditions.
In order to protect yourself while working remotely, make sure to use antivirus security software (as mentioned previously), and check all the links in the email before opening them. Instead of just pressing on them, hover your mouse and look at what address it gives. If it seems sketchy, it most likely is not real.
Certain email clients already have phishing filters and will warn you when you receive such an email, but it is always better to double-check either way just to be completely safe from any threats or attacks.
Lock your devices
A lot of people do not live alone, this makes working from home a little bit riskier. It is not like you should not trust the people you live with, but it is always better to have a "better safe than sorry" approach to everything.
If you stop using your device for some time (like when you are going to the toilet or having a lunch break), make sure to lock it. This would limit access to your devices for other people or would prevent your cat or dog from pressing buttons and messing things up. Random approaches would not do much to your operating system, but, once again, it is always better to keep everything secure.
This approach is, needless to say, more catered for those who work from home, but locking your devices is also applicable when you are working from the office. After all, you may not know what prank your fellow employees might try to pull or if there is any information displayed on the screen that is confidential and given to you (and only you) by your employers.
Use a webcam cover
During Covid 19, the number of people working from home increased dramatically. However, remote working does not mean that meetings and other similar activities have disappeared. Instead, they had become remote, using your microphone and webcam.
As the pandemic came to a close, many people continued working from home and having these meetings with fellow employees remotely. The usage of webcams is very wide, and this could pose a potential privacy risk.
That is why, to increase your physical security and cybersecurity, you should invest in a webcam cover. They usually come cheap and are just mere pieces of plastic that you can put on your webcam. Alternatively, you can go the Zuckerberg way and glue a piece of tape over your camera.
Why is this important? A more simple case would be accidentally leaving the camera on when it should not be on. Let's say you forget to disconnect from a call and leave your camera on, and go about your day. People at the other end of the network would be able to see your activities, whatever they may be. Maybe you wiggle your dog in a funny and cute way, thinking no one is able to see you, only to realize that someone was there all along.
In more severe cases, certain targeted attacks could allow hackers to use some tools that would let them watch you via your webcam. Though it sounds very scary, it is highly unlikely that an attack like that would happen. However, if just a few dollars can guarantee your privacy all around, be it while working from home or at the office, why not do it?
With all of these security tips at hand, you should be as secure as possible. Make sure to use all of them to be safe from threats, attacks, malware, and other bad things while you are working from home.
Some of these tips may cost some money, so why not earn it while doing your casual work? With Honeygain, which happens to be a very secure and private app, you can earn some money for your cybersecurity upgrades or other cool things! All of that while working from home or using your devices in other ways.