The move to remote and hybrid work that started in 2020 represented a giant shift in the way modern companies do business, and even after the initial waves of COVID-19 passed, many companies continue to embrace some variety of work-from-home. Studies show that remote work leads to happier, healthier, and a more productive workforce, and remote work allows companies to eliminate some overhead costs.
While remote work can be a genuinely positive model for many companies and their employees, it does create some challenges, including those in the realm of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity can be tricky enough to manage when everyone works in a centralized location, but becomes exceedingly complicated when employees (and their devices and networks) are scattered. Hackers understand that most home networks are significantly less secure than what you might find in a typical office, which gives them yet another vulnerability to exploit.
The good news is that there are some straightforward ways to ensure that you and your colleagues are practicing good cybersecurity hygiene even when you work from home.
Separate Professional from Personal
While it might be tempting to do some work on your faster, flashier personal laptop, it might not have all the safeguards and protections that your company-issued laptop does. Your company-issued work devices should have enterprise grade antivirus/antimalware and other protection software that will keep you safe. Some might have VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) so that you can remotely access your company network from the comfort of your home. (Aside: never connect to your company’s VPN with a personal device). These protections exist to help your corporate IT team protect device computer and monitor it for malicious activity, and your IT department can’t see, let alone protect, your personal device.
Properly Secure your Home WiFi
Unfortunately, most home WiFi networks are highly insecure. Even those that are password protected tend to have uncomplicated, easy-to-guess passwords. And even people who use a password manager and create complex passwords for all their online accounts may neglect to do the same for their WiFi password. While it might be tempting to create a simple and memorable password so that you can easily type it into new gadgets, or a friend’s phone, it’s worth taking the time to create a complex password if you’re working from home.
Never Use Public WiFi
Working from your favorite local coffee shop is a great way to get out of the house and avoid cabin fever while working remotely. Unfortunately, public WiFi is an absolute goldmine for a hacker (sipping coffee nearby) to steal information. Sharing a WiFi network with every John and Jane Doe in the room means malicious actors can easily use basic networking skills and software tools to access your data without you even knowing it. Worse yet, hackers sometimes set up public WiFi networks that are named to imitate the official WiFi of your coffee shop location. Accidentally connecting to a fake network instantly gives hackers access to everything on your device.
Stay off of public WiFi, and instead, use your phone’s mobile hotspot tool whenever you’re out and about. Keep that mobile hotspot password protected, and don’t let anyone else log onto it.
Never Leave Devices Unattended
Physical security is an important component of protecting your devices and data, and it is often overlooked. While it sounds obvious, never leave your company devices (or any devices for that matter) in your car or unattended in public. It’s much easier for a hacker to gain access to your data and your company’s larger network if they have your device in their hands.
While there are certainly more steps you can take, covering these basics can keep your business secure, save your company money, and keep your employees protected.
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