In the pre-pandemic era, remote work or telecommuting wasn’t really synonymous with just working from home as others worked from shared spaces or mostly from cafes. Nevertheless, whether the employee is working from home or working from another place more convenient for him at that given time; remote work, in general, increased job satisfaction and consequently enhances productivity. It was really nothing new; although back then (it seemed ages ago) it was more of a luxury…and then the coronavirus pandemic happened. Suddenly, the world stood still. With lockdowns, quarantine, and health protocols in place, now, if possible, work and school should be done from home.
Beneficial as it may seem, one of the many challenges a worker has to deal with is security. Now that we are confined to using our personal devices, chances are, these aren’t equipped with ample security to protect sensitive data that moves in and out of the office.
Cybersecurity is a global threat that all of us have to deal with. Ideally, if businesses would be incorporating a work from home set-up, to protect company data, they should first educate their employees of the possible threats in security and corresponding preventive measures. If possible, they should at least provide their employees with a device that is equipped with appropriate and up-to-date security protection (anti-virus/virus checker, firewall, etc) that the company itself has installed. It would also be beneficial to provide the worker with a VPN. This will hide the user’s IP address, user’s location and encrypt data transfers; overall, an added layer of security.
In the ideal world, most, if not all, would be provided by the company; but in the real world, things may be a bit different. If you are one of the those who are working from home, be guided by the following:
1. Make sure home Wi-fi routers are secured. Reset or change your router’s default Wifi password. When a new internet connection and router have been installed, it usually comes with a pre-programmed password. This should ultimately be changed as preconfigured passwords can easily be identified and accessed by an attacker.
2. Time and time again we’ve been reminded to always provide a more secure password and this is one good piece of advice that never gets old. All your devices should be password protected. Make sure to create a strong password for all your devices. They say the longer the better and make sure it is a mixture of symbols and alphanumerics. It is also necessary to use two-factor authentication. At best, passwords should never be reused, recycled and shared.
3. Be conscious and be on guard of suspicious emails and emails from those whom you do not know. If they’ve sent you attachments or links, it is best not to open them.
4. If possible, do not combine work and personal devices. Have a separate device for personal use and another separate device for work. In addition, refrain from using USB flash drives to store personal, confidential and sensitive data. They may be handy and convenient; but removable storage devices such as these pose a lot of security risks.
5. Do not expose yourself too much on social media. While it may be nice and fun to keep up with the “trends” in social media; the sad truth is, most of them aren’t as innocent as they seem to be. Keep in mind that there are a lot of hackers who troll the social media sites and they are just waiting for “vulnerable” people to share personal data on their site.