Working from home is a dream for many people. It means more time with the family, more flexibility and no commute. But working from home can be risky too.
You are alone, probably unsupervised, and there can be fewer checks on what you do or whether you complete assignments in a timely fashion. Working from home also creates new challenges with cyber-security. Working from home leaves your computer exposed to all kinds of risks.
You might not have the same anti-virus software as your employer and viruses are much easier to catch when they come directly through your computer rather than having to get past office firewalls first.
Not only this but if your computer is hacked or ransomware gets into your system it could have disastrous consequences for you personally and professionally.
Back Up Regularly
One of the most important ways to stay secure while working from home is to have a regular backup of all your data. This can be done automatically, and will protect you against almost any kind of data loss.
You might not think that you need a backup while working from home, but it is always a good idea to have one ready just in case your computer breaks down or is hacked. Computer equipment regularly breaks down and if yours happens while you’re working, you could lose all your data if you don’t have a backup.
Even if you have anti-virus software, malware is becoming more and more sophisticated, meaning that it can lie dormant for a long time before it activates, causing havoc on your computer.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
When you work from home you will probably, at some point, use public Wi-Fi. This could be at a coffee shop or it might be your internet provider’s home Wi-Fi service.
Avoid these like the plague! The same goes for any public network, such as those at airports or hotels. There are just too many risks. These networks are often unsecured, meaning anyone can access them.
And if your computer is on them, it opens itself up to all kinds of data theft. Not only this but public Wi-Fi is rarely as fast as your own internet connection. Avoid public networks whenever possible.
Use A Virtual Networking Environment
Many people who work from home actually work for themselves and those people might be more at risk than many office workers. But, like office workers, you should regularly check your computer for malware.
However, you can go one step further than many people do by setting up a Virtual Networking Environment (VNE). A VNE is a virtual computer, separate from your main computer.
You can use it to access your online accounts, such as your email account, where you can do things like change your passwords when you notice suspicious activity.
Use Supported Operating Systems
When you work from home, you don’t have the same IT support that you might have at the office. You need to protect your own computer, so you should use operating systems that are more secure.
If you use Windows, use Home edition. If you use Mac computers, use macOS. Some organizations mandate the use of certain operating systems and software. If you work in government or healthcare, for example, you might need to use a specific operating system. That’s because those industries have special needs related to security. They need to protect data from both hackers and curious insiders like you.
Don’t Click On Strange Emails And links
It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people fall for email scams. Don’t open emails from people you don’t know, or emails that seem strangely urgent. If you receive a legitimate email from your employer, they will also have your employee ID, so emails from them will come from a specific address.
If you receive an email from someone you don’t know but it has your company email address in the header, don’t open it, it’s likely a phishing email. Delete it, or report it to your employer. If you receive an urgent email, either call or check with your boss first before opening it, just to be safe.
This is an extra layer of security that most online services offer. It means that, in addition to your password, you have to provide a second form of verification when signing in to various websites.
You might be required to provide a code that is sent to your phone, or enter your date of birth or an ID number from your driving license. This means that even if someone gets hold of your password, they won’t be able to access your account. Be sure to set this up for all the accounts you use regularly.
Protect Your Computer With An Anti-Malware Program
All computers should have anti-malware software. This software scans your computer regularly and identifies and removes any suspicious or dangerous software, including viruses and worms. If you use your computer for work, make sure that any anti-malware software you use is compatible with your employers’ computers.
Watch Out For Phishing Emails
As well as not opening emails from people you don’t know, another very important thing is to be careful what you click on. Be wary of clicking on any links in emails.
It is easy to spot spoofed emails but it’s also easy to miss them. If there is any doubt about the authenticity of an email, don’t open any links in it. If you don’t know who sent an email, don’t open it. If the email just demands that you send money or click on a link, don’t do either!
Invest In A Password Manager
If you have lots of different logins and passwords, it is easy to get confused, which could leave you open to hacking. Many people use the same password for everything, which is even more risky.
A password manager will store all your passwords behind a single login. So, using one, you only have to remember one password, and you will be able to access all your other passwords wherever you are.
Separate Work And Personal Devices
If you use one device for work and another device for your personal use, you could be protecting yourself against the risk of fraud. Fraudsters are always looking for ways to get hold of your personal information, like your credit card details and bank account numbers, so that they can use them for their own ends.
If you use different devices for work and personal use, it’s less likely that a fraudster will get hold of all your information. This is especially important if you use public Wi-Fi.
If you are only using one device, it would be easy for a hacker to gain access to everything you do online. On the other hand, if you use two different devices, a hacker would have to break into each one and use both devices to access everything you do online.
Enable Find My Device And Remote Wipe
If you work from home, you might be able to remotely access company computers. If you can, you should enable remote wiping. That way, if your computer is hacked, you can remotely wipe it clean.
Also you can erase malicious code and protect your client data. For example, workers at a utility company can remotely access customer data and manipulate the grid, so utility companies often have strict controls.
If your company uses the same software, you can remotely access those computers and wipe them clean in the event of a hack, protecting client data and stopping hackers in their tracks, even if you’re not at work.
Also, make sure Find My Device is enabled. This feature allows you to track your computer or device should it be lost or stolen. You can also remotely access your device as needed using a PIN code.
Use An Antivirus
If you work from home, you need to be extra vigilant about anti-virus software. The biggest risk to you is ransomware. You could be targeted by a hacker who wants to make money off of your computer.
They might try to infect your computer with a virus, like ransomware. This type of attack might try to extort money from you, telling you that you have to pay them to unlock your computer.
Ransomware attacks can happen to anyone. But people who work from home might be more vulnerable to such attacks because their home computers may not have the same level of protection as computers at work.
Keep in mind that working from home can increase your risk of getting hacked because you’re accessing company data remotely and may have fewer IT safeguards available to you.
You can reduce the risk of a breach by using the right operating system and software, choosing a secure password and using antivirus software. If you work from home, you might be more at risk of cybercrime.
Working from home can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to take steps to stay safe online.