Working from home is here to stay for the foreseeable future, but how safe is your data when you’re away from the office? Cyber security and data integrity should be taken serious by remote workers. This article will explain how you can protect your data, be more aware of the risks and take steps to make your data more secure.
Amidst the chaos and unease of the global pandemic, digital transformation has happened. Earlier this year, and almost overnight, hundreds of thousands of office workers were ordered by law to work from home. Working from home was slowly gaining popularity before the lockdowns started, but it’s now become routine for so many of us.
Whether you’re itching to get back to the socially distanced office, or you’re relishing working from home in your pyjamas, you need to be aware of the risks to your data and IT systems when working remotely.
During the ongoing pandemic, unscrupulous cyber criminals have taken advantage of the international crisis, online scammers have been rife over the past several months.
Also, many inexperienced IT users are now undertaking work on their home networks and equipment, rather than office networks with higher levels of security.
We’re here to help you stay secure and keep your data safe.
How to stay more secure when working from home: 7 tips
Here are some quick and easy steps you can take to keep your data secure at home:
1. Use a VPN at home
Your home network is not as secure as it could be, unless you’re in the handful of users who change your ISP router’s default configuration as soon as you can, then it’s definitely vulnerable.
A VPN is a Virtual Private Network, which provides an encrypted connection between your device and the private network, and it is the private network which accesses web content and relays it back to you.
2. Be vigilant towards Phishing and social engineering attacks
Scams such as phishing emails, social engineering on social media and malware distribution through cloaked links are very easy to fall for, even if you’re tech-savvy. These scams are more sophisticated than they were just a few years ago, so be vigilant and don’t click on any links that you’re unsure of.
Legitimate companies like your bank, insurance provider, PayPal and online retailers will never email you out of the blue asking for personal details that you’re not expecting.
It’s also common for scams to circulate by text message, WhatsApp and other Social Media messaging apps. These include messages from old friends with compromised accounts, saying things like…
“OMG! Is this you in the video?” followed by a dubious looking link that’s guaranteed to lead somewhere you don’t want to go.
3. Use Strong and Unique Passwords everywhere
Yeah, right, you’ve heard this before… and you’re good with your passwords, right? If you’ve honestly never reused a password more than once then you get a congratulatory pat on the back for doing things right!
Every time you sign up for a new account online, you need a unique passwords that’s made up of jumbled up letters, numbers and characters that does not resemble a word.
You are not supposed to remember your password.
They are supposed to be stored in an encrypted password vault such as LastPass, BitWarden or KeePass.
4. Back up important data to the cloud
The best way to protect your data is to keep it backed up regularly. Think of your computer like a single point-of-failure. If it fails, it can be replaced. So can its data… if you have a backup.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, so don’t be one of those people who learns about the importance of backing up when it’s too late. Setting up backups only takes a few minutes, there are several reliable cloud storage providers like Google Drive, Microsoft 365, AWS and DropBox.
These online file storage solutions also make remote working easier, as files are stored in a central location making collaboration possible. If you’re not already using the cloud for your business, it’s definitely time to start!
5. Keep your software updated
Operating Systems, firmware, applications and software receive periodic updates. These updates may seem inconvenient as they always like to pop up just when you’re in the middle of something!
Updates often include important security updates, so you should make a point to complete any pending updates as soon as possible. Here’s a brief list of things you should keep updated on a regular basis:
1. Your mobile phone and all its apps
2. The firmware on your wireless router or modem
3. Your PC, laptop and any installed applications or games
4. Smart home equipment, such as smart speakers and light bulbs
5. Games consoles, TVs and other equipment that can connect to the internet
6. Avoid USB Sticks and SD Cards
USB sticks and SD cards are great for making your data portable, especially if you’re using media devices like cameras or audio recorders. But you should not be relying on portable data solutions for long-term storage!
They’re simply too easy to get damaged or lost. SD Cards are especially vulnerable to data loss, not only due to their size, but due to the nature of the devices that use SD Cards, they often contain data that would be exceedingly difficult to replace.
Most modern cameras and devices have Wi-Fi functionality built in so you can transfer any photos, videos, and other files onto your phone wherever you are.
Related: How to Protect your SD Cards
7. Watch out for scammers
Scammers have been exploiting the fact that more users are working from home, without the protection of corporate networks.
Don’t get caught out, especially in the lead up to Christmas.
Scammers are everywhere online and they’re always looking for new targets. They love to hang out in local buy/sell Facebook groups, someone’s selling a brand new PS5 in its box? Think again.
Don’t get complacent when you’re working from home and browsing the internet at the same time.
The UK Government are constantly changing the restrictions to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, but most office-based businesses have accepted that working from home isn’t going to end any time soon.
It’s your responsibility to protect your data within your business, so share this blog post with your team to make sure they’re abiding by best practice whilst working at home.