5 Tips For Securely Working From Home (WFH)

Remote Work

The internet is full of knowledge, entertainment and tools to make everyone’s lives easier. However, not everything is hearts and flowers with the internet.

Working remotely from home (or elsewhere) due to COVID-19 has caused many workers and employers to have to learn new skills and get adjusted not only to a different environment, but also to different threats they may encounter online.

In the last 6 months we’ve seen the following cybersecurity issues being the most important for people now working from home (WFH) and remote workers in general.

1. Secure Your Wifi Router

With everyone in the household surfing the net simultaneously for work, study or just straying from boredom, users may be vulnerable to neighbours and strangers trying to connect to their internet connection for better speed or just fun.

To keep lurkers away from using your internet, the first step to protect your WiFi connection is changing the user password on your router. 

Most routers come with a predetermined password set as a default, which you can often find on the sticker attached to the back. These passwords can be changed manually in just a few moments.

More importantly checking you have disabled WPS encryption and enabled WPA2-PSK is essential.

Lastly, and most critically is changing the router admin login password which most people never do, and most manufacturers set to “password” or something similar that’s very easy to hack. 

Securing your WiFi router is important because it’s one of the easiest and most common ways to be have your security compromised because nobody ever changes their default password and hackers know this fact.

2. Ignore COVID Emails & Info

Phishing (fake emails) has been around since the internet was invented, however due to COVID-19, everyone has been pushed to checking their email more closely than normal for work and personal communications. The pandemic has not only caused the rise of coronavirus, but also an increase of scams online and phishing emails. 

COVID-19 related emails and fake websites have increase by 3,700% since the pandemic began. So most websites will be dangerous and nearly all emails infected. So just ignore them.

If you receive a personal email that may seems suspicious always mark it as spam. If you received a suspicious mail on a work email address, report it to the IT department so they can filter emails coming from that source. 

Tip: Don’t forward the email, just take a screenshot (as forwarding it to others could inadvertently have them click on the link).

3. Separate Work Usage From Personal

Some companies provide work laptops for their employees to take home. If you are in this lucky group, take this important step in order to protect your personal information. 

Avoid logging into your personal accounts, such as email and social media on your work computer. It might seem hard but it’s important for security.

Most household have a few computers so just make a habit of using the work laptop for work and another device for personal.

Remember that most companies have an IT department in charge of setting up and administering their laptops. The setup process often includes installing tools that can monitor their employee activity in order to ensure system integrity, productivity and correct use of the equipment.

While this is done for the employer’s benefit, it may expose the employee’s personal information and browsing habits to the company IT provider and ultimately the Human Resources department should their activity be outside company usage policy. 

In addition, if any of your personal websites are hacked (and they can often have weaker security) then your work laptop will be infected and your company’s security compromised.

4. Update Your Personal Devices

If your company did not provide you with equipment to work from home, and you had no choice but to use your personal computer, make sure the software is updated. It’s probably been awhile for most people.

These patches (updates) provide fixes for applications and operating systems, which plug security vulnerabilities. While updates can take time and be tedious, it’s an important part of keeping you information safe. 

Use a specific browser login just for your work activity; this will ensure all of your work stays organized and secure in one place, while avoiding the problem of mixing your personal and work bookmarks (and login information) in the same browser. 

5. Use 2 Step Login (2FA) In The Cloud

Many people leave their computers unlocked and unsupervised during the day. In order to avoid putting your security at risk, be sure to set up two-factor authentication (2FA) for logging into all of your work and personal accounts on the web. If someone tries to go into your accounts, you will be notified by email or via your mobile number, minimizing your security risks. 

Google research shows 97% of bulk phishing attacks are prevented when using 2FA on cloud account logins.

Implementing these essential 5 security steps will help keep you and your data safe when working from home or remotely, and bring you greater peace of mind whenever you’re surfing the web or working online.

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