Work from Home Cyber Security Tips to Keep Your Data Safe
It’s no secret that working from home has become the new normal for many of us. According to a recent study by Upwork (an online freelancing platform), the number of Americans working from home is projected to reach around 40.7 million by 2026. To put this into perspective, that’s approximately 25% of the entire American workforce (as of Feb 2020)! It’s safe to say that remote work is here to stay and it’s a trend that’s only going to continue to grow.
While there are many benefits to working from home, there are also some challenges that come along with it — one of which is cyber security. When you’re working from home, you’re not just responsible for your own data and devices, you’re also responsible for keeping your company’s or client’s data safe.
In this quick guide, we’ll be sharing some working from home cyber security tips to help you keep your data safe when working remotely.
Work from home cybersecurity — why is it important?
The first thing you must know about cyber security at home is that your home network becomes your office network. This means that all of the devices on your home network — laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc. — are now potential entry points for cybercriminals.
In addition to this, when you work from home, you may be using personal devices for work purposes. This can create a blurry line between your personal data and your work data, which can lead to problems if your personal devices are not properly protected.
Work from home cyber security tips
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to cyber security and working from home.
Learn about your company’s cybersecurity work from home policies
Before you start working from home, make sure that you’re familiar with your company’s guidelines for cybersecurity at home. These policies will outline what you need to do in order to keep your company’s data safe while working remotely.
Invest in a dedicated device for work
If at all possible, invest in a dedicated device for work purposes. This could be a laptop, tablet, or even a smartphone that is only used for work. This will help to keep your personal data separate from your work data, which will make it easier to protect both.
While it might seem convenient to use your personal devices for work, it’s not worth the risk. For example, if your personal device is lost or stolen, there’s a chance that your work data could be compromised as well.
Secure your Wi-Fi network
One of the first things you should do when it comes to working from home safely is to make sure that your Wi-Fi network is secure. The last thing you want is for someone to be able to access your work data or devices by simply being in the range of your Wi-Fi network.
There are a few different things you can do to secure your Wi-Fi network:
- Use a strong password: A strong password is one that is at least eight characters long and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Use WPA/WPA security: This type of security encrypts the data that is being sent over your Wi-Fi network, making it much more difficult for someone to intercept.
- Enable MAC filtering: This will allow you to specify which devices are allowed to connect to your Wi-Fi network. This means that anyone who is not on the list will be unable to access your network, even if they have the password.
Beware of phishing attacks
Phishing attacks are one of the most common types of cyber attacks, and they can be especially dangerous for remote work security. This is because even with all of the security measures in place, it only takes one person to click on a malicious link or attachment for the whole system to be compromised.
A phishing attack is when a hacker sends an email or other type of communication that appears to be from a legitimate source but is actually a way to steal sensitive data or infect your device with malware.
To protect yourself from phishing attacks, you should never click on links or open attachments from unknown sources. If you’re not sure whether an email is legitimate, you can always contact the person who supposedly sent it to confirm.
Lock and enable tracking on your work devices
Just like you would with your personal devices, it’s important to lock your work devices when you’re not using them. This will help to prevent anyone from being able to access your data if your device is lost or stolen.
In addition, many work laptops and smartphones have built-in tracking features that can be used to locate the device if it’s lost. Ensure these features are enabled so you can quickly recover your device if it goes missing.
Regularly back up important data
In the event that your work device is lost or stolen, or if it becomes infected with malware, you’ll want to have a backup of your important data. That way, you can quickly get back to work without having to start from scratch.
There are a few different ways you can backup your data as part of your working from home security plan:
- Use an online backup service: This is a good option if you have a lot of data to back up. Services like Dropbox and Google Drive offer free plans that give you a certain amount of storage space.
- Use an external hard drive: This is a good option if you want to be able to access your backups without an internet connection. External hard drives can be plugged into your computer to transfer files quickly.
Use an authenticator app
This is a good option if you want an extra layer of security for your online accounts. Authenticator apps generate one-time codes that you can use to log in, even if someone has your password.
There are a few different authenticator apps to choose from, but our favorite is Authy. It’s free to use and works with most major online accounts, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
Keep your software and operating system up to date
Vulnerabilities in software and operating systems are often discovered by security researchers. Once these vulnerabilities are made public, hackers will try to exploit them to gain access to devices and data.
That’s why it’s important to keep your software and devices up to date with the latest security patches. Most major software companies release new updates on a regular basis, so it’s just a matter of making sure that your devices are set to download and install these updates automatically.
The best among our cybersecurity tips for work from home — Use a VPN
A VPN (a virtual private network) is a tool that can be used to encrypt your internet traffic and make it appear as if you’re browsing from a different location. This can be useful for a number of reasons, including bypassing censorship and accessing geo-blocked content.
There are many different VPN providers, but our favorite is ClearVPN. It’s fast, affordable, and easy to use.
To get started, all you have to do is log on to the ClearVPN website, and click on “My Account.”
From there, you can download the VPN app and create an account. Once you’re logged in, you can choose from a number of different “shortcuts” based on your needs.
For example, if you want to encrypt your traffic and start browsing securely and privately, then you can simply click on the “Activate” button next to the shortcut.
Note that while you can start using ClearVPN with a free account, some features will require a paid subscription — changing server locations, ad blocking, unblocking BBC iPlayer, etc.
FAQs about work-from-home cyber security
How often should I update my software and devices?
You should update your software and devices regularly, especially if there are new security patches available. Most major software companies release new updates on a regular basis. A good rule of thumb is to check for updates once a week and install them as soon as possible.
Do I really need to use a VPN?
While it’s not required, we recommend using a VPN whenever possible, especially if you’re working from home. A VPN can help to encrypt your traffic and make it appear as if you’re browsing from a different location. This can be useful for a number of reasons, including bypassing censorship and accessing geo-blocked content.
Can I use a free VPN for working from home?
We do not recommend using a free VPN, as they are often unreliable and can sell your data to third parties. That’s how they make money and pay for the expense of running their servers. Instead, we recommend using a paid VPN service like ClearVPN. It’s fast, affordable, and easy to use.
What’s the best way to store my backups?
The best way to store your backups will depend on your needs. If you want to be able to access your backups from anywhere, then you can store them in the cloud. However, if you’re worried about data breaches, then you can store your backups offline on an external hard drive.