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Top 5 security practices for remote workers to stay safe while working from home

Security practices for remote workers have been a topic of interest for highly regulated businesses. One of the main things that held many businesses back from transitioning to remote working was the security concern. In particular, highly regulated and secure businesses have been remote work resistant. But remote does not mean unsecured work.

Security practices for remote workers

Securely working from home has been a topic of interest for many highly regulated businesses. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses were gradually beginning to implement work-from-home schedules where their employees could use “flex schedules” to work from home a couple of days per week. Some teams were even transitioning to a more full-time work-from-home schedule. 

But, like it or not, even the most remote work-adverse companies were thrust into the remote world because they needed to reduce face-to-face contact while keeping business operations alive. 

Suddenly learning to work from home has been a stressor for businesses and employees alike as people figure out how to manage their new schedules, create new working spaces at home, and stay accountable. 

One of the main things that held many businesses back from transitioning to remote working was the security concern. In particular, highly regulated and secure businesses have been remote work resistant. But remote does not mean unsecured work. 

Any employee can take several simple steps to ensure they are keeping their personal and business-related files safe from predators, viruses, and other cybersecurity threats. 

Protecting your passwords

It’s essential to ensure your accounts and information are as secure as possible by protecting them with a safe password. Your passwords should meet the following requirements:

●    Passwords must be unique: Don’t use one password across your accounts. This puts them all at risk if the password is hacked. For instance, if someone hacks into your email account, they can try using that same password on the other accounts you receive emails from. If your passwords are all the same, they not only have access to your email—they have access to anything else that uses that password. 

●    Passwords must not be guessable: Don’t use information that can be easily found as your password. For instance, don’t use a pet’s name, spouse’s name, birth date, or anything else that someone might easily find on your social media profiles or elsewhere. This is also important because there is software that can “guess” your password in seconds. Don’t make it easy to crack.

●    Passwords must use a combination of symbols, letters, and numbers: This also helps ensure your password is not guessable or easy for a software system to crack. It’s recommended that you use at least eight to ten characters and randomize the location where the numbers and symbols appear. 

Use two-factor authentication everywhere possible

Many applications now allow you to use two-factor authentication to verify yourself before you can log in. This means that you have to have more than the correct password—you also have to verify your identity by clicking an email link or entering a code from a text message. 

This is important because, in addition to verifying every login, you’ll also receive an alert whenever someone tries to log into your account. If that someone is not you, you can deny them access to the account to which they’re trying to log in. This gives you the most control over your accounts and their access, so it is a significant, simple step when available.

Purchase anti-malware software

Anti-malware software (like x or y) can help detect and protect your computer and files from malicious software, including viruses. Many people believe that viruses and other malicious software can only infect your computer if you access risky sites, but that’s not true. These viruses can come from a seemingly safe email, a file attachment, an innocent internet download, and more. 

Having firewalls and protective software in place can help your computer recognize when it’s in danger and allow it to fight back before the virus costs you hundreds in repair costs. 

Securing your home router

If you’re working from home with your private internet and router, you’ll want to secure your router. To do this, you’ll want to:

●    Update your router password: Most routers initially have a default password. However, you’ll want to change that password to your unique one that fits the guidelines provided above in the password section.

●    Rename your router: Your router also may come with a default name. Change it to something you can quickly identify, but don’t add anything that will let other people know it’s your router. So, don’t use your name or address in the title.

●    Update your router’s firmware: Many people don’t realize this needs to be done. However, router manufacturers often send notifications when new updates are available for their routers. Ensuring that your router is up to date on firmware will ensure it is also kept safe and secure. Some routers will automatically update themselves, but it is essential to be sure that you aren’t left exposed to avoidable digital threats.

●    Take advantage of encryption options: Most routers have WEP, WPA, and/or WPA2 encryption options. 

●    Set up a guest network: You can set up a guest network with a separate login and password to protect and save your network. 

Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is used to extend a private network (like a business network) to a public collaborator (like an employee located off business property). This allows the private network to share files and communicate remotely with minimized risk for a predator to steal data and information. 

VPNs are essential when working from or using public internet sources (like Wi-Fi from a coffee shop) because other users on the same network could capture your online activity. So, someone could see and steal your information if you’re making payments, sending emails, or shopping online. 

Conclusion

Staying secure while working from home doesn’t have to be a mystery, nor does it have to be complicated. By taking the simple steps outlined here, you can keep your data and files safe throughout each working session.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which password management do you recommend?

Password Managers: A password manager is a software application that helps you generate and store complex passwords. This is especially useful for people who struggle to come up with unique passwords for every website they use. Some popular password managers include LastPass, 1Password, Bitwarden, and Dashlane.

Which anti-malware software do you recommend?

When it comes to anti-malware software, there are many options available, both free and paid. Some popular choices include Malwarebytes, Norton, and Kaspersky. These tools can help detect and remove viruses, malware, and other threats from your computer or mobile device. It’s important to keep your anti-malware software up-to-date to ensure you are protected from the latest threats.

In addition to using these tools, there are some other practical steps you can take to secure your devices, such as enabling two-factor authentication on your accounts, keeping your software up-to-date, and avoiding suspicious emails or links. By following these tips and using these tools, you can help protect your digital life from cyber threats.

What is Two-Factor Authentication?

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts by requiring a second form of authentication, such as a code sent to your phone, in addition to your password. Many online services, such as Google and Facebook, offer two-factor authentication as an option. It’s a good idea to enable this feature wherever possible.

What are Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)?

A VPN is a service that allows you to browse the internet anonymously and securely by routing your internet connection through a private server. This can be particularly useful when using public Wi-Fi networks, which are often unsecured and can put your data at risk. Some popular VPN services include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and CyberGhost.

In summary, what are the best practices for remote work security?

–Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication for all accounts.
–Keep software and devices up-to-date with the latest security patches.
–Use a virtual private network (VPN) for remote access to company systems.
–Encrypt sensitive data in transit and at rest.
–Limit access to company data and systems on a need-to-know basis.
–Use secure communication tools and avoid public Wi-Fi networks.
–Train employees on remote work security best practices and provide ongoing support.

Is remote work a security risk?

Remote work can pose security risks if proper security measures are not in place. Remote workers may use personal devices or unsecured networks that can be compromised, leading to data breaches or unauthorized access to company systems. However, with proper security measures in place, remote work can be just as secure as working in a traditional office setting.

Should physical security go out the window when working from home?

No, physical security should not go out the window when working from home. Remote workers should take steps to secure their home offices, such as locking doors and windows, storing sensitive documents in a secure location, and using a privacy screen on their computers. Employers can also provide guidelines on physical security for remote workers.

How to increase remote access security levels for remote workers?

To increase remote access security levels for remote workers, employers can:
–Use strong authentication methods such as multi-factor authentication.
–Limit access to company systems on a need-to-know basis.
–Use a VPN for remote access to company systems.
–Monitor remote access and activity for unusual behavior.
–Use encryption for sensitive data in transit and at rest.
–Provide ongoing training and support for remote work security best practices.

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