Thousands of businesses around the world have been forced to introduce remote work for their employees. In today’s world where telecommuting came together in a hurry, there is another consideration that should not be ignored: security. Keeping company and employee information secure on unsecured networks requires vigilance and a few easy steps employees can take. Let’s take a look at how employees can work from home without compromising security.
The obvious but most ignored step a you can take to stay secure is to be vigilant with your devices. You want to make sure that no one has an unfettered view of your workspace. Many companies have their employees working with confidential information.
If you need to leave your home for any reason, lock up your computer or mobile devices by simply locking the computer or locking it away in a desk or cabinet. You would not leave your computer unlocked in the office, so keep that habit going at home. You also want to make sure no one walking around a neighborhood can see computers or mobile devices just lying on a desk. They can make a very tempting target for brazen criminals.
Secure Your Home Network
Security generally means strong passwords and having a secure connection. When you are working from home, IT teams have zero control over your home network which can often be poorly protected. Ensuring your Wi-Fi connection has a secure password is critical to information security. Choosing a birth date or wedding anniversary is not sufficient. Instead, use a unique password that integrates numbers, characters, capitalization, etc.
Separate from passwords, but on the same subject of secure home networks, is the inclusion of a VPN. A virtual private network (VPN) is a gateway created by your work to access internal networks from anywhere. Put simply, a VPN acts as something of a secure tunnel for employees to work through. This allows you to access your intranet and other internal tools. On top of that, a VPN will encrypt all Internet traffic so it is not readable by any hackers. Using your company-assigned VPN can make all of the difference between good security and no security.
Keep Work Separate from Personal
You might find yourself tempted to respond to a few emails before bed but your work computer is in the other room. That can make it very tempting to use your personal computer, send the emails and be done for the night. This is a major risk to security and should not be considered.
By adding a home computer to your company network, you can put the entire network at risk. Should you have or be at risk of a computer virus, it can snake its way through your inbox and onto the company network. This can lead to major liability, data loss and compromise, etc. The risks of using your personal computer absolutely outweigh the rewards.
Using Antivirus Software
Many routers you can buy for the home come with strong firewalls to protect against viruses, but they are not infallible. Fortunately, you can protect against viruses with strong antivirus and anti-malware software. If you are using a work-provided computer, there is a good chance your computer already comes with antivirus software. Running this once or twice a week might sound like an unnecessary headache, but it can be a critical move in network security.
Identifying a virus or malware early can protect against compromised computers or networks in the future. The best way to protect against viruses is to not click on any emails or websites you do not recognize. That work email that promises you have inherited a million dollars is probably fake. Clicking on the link can quickly allow a virus to transmit itself to your computer. With antivirus software, even if you accidentally click a malicious link, you and your company will have better protection.
Collaborate Securely with Coworkers
Working from home almost unquestionably means you need new communication methods for you and your coworkers. You used to be able to meet in a conference room or office and discuss confidential information that you would not want to get out into the open world. That’s why apps like Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Slack are provided by your company to make sure communication is secure. In the event your company does not provide encrypted communication methods, turn to tools like Signal or Telegram to continue working. As these message applications offer end-to-end encryption by default, they can be invaluable tools for working remotely.
Staying secure while employees are located across a city, state or country can be critical to making sure there is no risk to your business. You can also make good use of these tools to help your team transition from office to working remotely.