Working from home can keep you safe, but it may put your privacy at risk. Read these must-know work from home safety and security tips.
As the pandemic rages on, many of us are still working from home. Odds are that things will end up as a hybrid of working remotely and from the office even after the world opens back up.
While there’s something nice about being able to work from your pajamas, it’s important to take your digital privacy and safety a little more safely now that you’re working from home.
We’re going to talk about how to work from home safely in this article, giving you some things to look out for as well as some pointers on prevention. Let’s get started:
How to Work Safely From Home
Because so many of us are working from home, there’s been a significant increase in digital privacy attacks. Everyone is using the web for various reasons, and a lot of those new digital business interactions aren’t as protected as they once were when things were still in the office.
It was such a seamless transition to an online world and workspace that many of us didn’t even think to boost up our own personal security in the first place.
Digital attacks are one of those things that we don’t even consider on a daily basis if we’re covered, but now that there are so many new opportunities to have data stolen and used, it’s important to keep the following things in mind.
Make Sure You Have Antivirus Software
First things first, install that antivirus software that’s been hollering at you from tiny notifications at the bottom of your screen for the last six years. If you’re one of the people who take initiative and updates that software whenever it needs to be done, we salute you.
If you’re part of the 99% who puts it off until another day, though, this is your sign to take a moment and get that figured out. Antivirus software is essentially what’s keeping you and your computer safe from those who would steal your identity and use it to ruin your financial and personal life.
It’s a scary thought, but those people are out there and there are arguably more people trying to do just that right now. 2021 is going to look a lot like 2020, at least for the first few months, so make sure that you’re prepared.
This is especially important because hackers and malware could potentially access your employer’s entire system if you’re working from home and engaging on servers with your coworkers.
There are different levels of security to each platform that you might be communicating on, but there are sure to be pieces of sensitive information in those conversations, including passwords, financial statements, account numbers, and more.
Update Your Computer and Its Programs
Another piece of the security puzzle is to update your various devices and programs. Updates aren’t suggested only for improvements in user experience and to urge you to spend more money.
Instead, the essential piece of getting updates is the fact that most of them are packed with improvements to previous security measures. As a new device rolls out, it’s host to a lot of bugs and errors that hackers might exploit.
Those issues are quickly identified and they’re repaired in the form of updates. This isn’t just for devices, either. The same goes for software, hardware, digital platforms, and more. Whatever you’re using heavily for work, make sure it’s updated.
It’s important to update your entire suite of programs as well as your computer, too, because it’s possible that the entire system will be breached if one of your programs allows the malware to be installed.
Almost any update you come across will be free, and they don’t take more than an hour or two to complete. In other words, there isn’t really a good reason to avoid getting an update when you see that you’re due for one.
Locking Down Your Personal Wifi Network
Odds are that your work-from-home process is fueled by your own personal wifi connection. Home connections tend to be relatively secure, but there are a few holes in the process that hackers can exploit.
One thing that’s not great security practice is keeping the original password that your wifi company provides for you when you sign up. These passwords are unique and would be difficult to guess, but the fact is that there’s record of those passwords being assigned to your network.
So, while it seems like “buffalO1452” would be almost impossible to guess, that doesn’t mean there isn’t someone who hacked an entire series of those passwords. It’s possible to change your password if you’d like to.
In some cases, you’ll have to call your wifi company and ask them how this is done because each provider might have a different method.
Another great way to beef up your home wifi security is to invest in a VPN.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is a way to encrypt and hide your web traffic data from anyone that would ever look. A normal wifi network is pretty exposed to the digital world, even if nobody is hacking you.
If they want to see what you’re doing and you don’t have a VPN, it would be extremely easy to do so. The VPN sends your web activity through a server that hides your IP address and gives the appearance that your activity is going through a different network.
This way, people never see your location or what you’re doing online. Not only does your location and activity get scattered, but your data is also hidden and encrypted so that no one could read or interpret it.
The only thing is that quality VPN servers typically require subscriptions, so it’s important to ask your employer if they’d be willing to provide that for you considering the fact that you’re protecting their data as well.
Free VPN servers might not be the best investment because there’s typically some kind of catch. As the saying goes, if you’re not paying for the service, you are the product.
That means that your information or other data might be sold to foreign companies or research companies. In the worst cases, those free sites are just hacking schemes themselves.
Be On the Lookout for COVID-19 Scams
Scammers were there from the beginning, and odds are that they’ll be there through the bitter end.
There aren’t as many Nigerian prince scams floating around anymore, but scammers tend to use the latest natural or cultural disaster to tug on heartstrings and get money out of kind people.
In that spirit, there are a number of scams that target people through various COVID-related schemes. These can be unknown links that get emailed to you, phone calls asking for relief funds, are different attachments having to do with your stimulus check or otherwise.
Basically, if the contact you’re getting about COVID-19 isn’t official from the government or someone you know, don’t click the links or give out any of your personal information. These links are often embedded with malware, or at least the website that it directs you to will swarm your computer.
It’s tough to know precisely what form these scams will come in, but just be aware of the fact that there are numerous people and groups out there that are using the pandemic to scam and hack.
Be Careful on Shared Servers
There are a lot of instances where your screen will be shared to groups or that you’ll have to video conference with numerous individuals from around your organization.
These instances are a hotbed for security issues. First, try not to share your screen if you can help it. That isn’t to say that sharing your screen is objectively dangerous, but it’s possible for you to accidentally share personal or financial information to the group.
If someone in the group has a computer that’s been compromised or hacked, that could give those hackers access to the information that you’re sharing on your screen.
Second, spaces with a lot of computers connected at the same time are generally a little more dangerous than private searches or one-to-one encounters. This is just because those servers are less likely to be protected, and there’s always the chance that someone in the group has been compromised. ‘
Make Sure to Get Outside and Breathe Fresh Air
Our final point on staying safe is about keeping your brain healthy. Working from home is isolating, and many of us thrive on human connection and communication.
It’s easy to get a little low if you’re sitting inside all day, only talking with people through a screen. Not that you can safely talk to people outside of the screen, but you can certainly step outside and enjoy nature for a little while each day.
Be sure to try and keep your mind and body healthy through this pandemic, there are a lot of folks out there who are having a difficult time and we’re all prone to those ups and downs.
Need to Beef Up Your Security?
If you’re trying to work safely from home but don’t have the proper hardware, we’re here to help. We can work with individuals or organizations to make sure that their systems are well-protected and prepared for safe work through the pandemic.
Explore our site or contact us for more information and ideas on how to maintain digital security.