While remote working and work from home (WFH) have both been growing in popularity in recent years, the Covid-19 lockdown really turbocharged the movement in London and the rest of the UK. A study in 2018 discovered that more than 70% of employees across the world worked from home at least one day a week. But the Coronavirus pandemic put our technology – or, more accurately, in-house IT teams and outsourced managed IT support partner – under great pressure. They had to get numerous people set up to work at home securely, and fast. And as remote working now seems likely to be the ‘new normal’ for the foreseeable future, in this blog post we’re going to share our top tips on how to stay cybersecurity safe while working from home.
How to stay cybersecurity safe while working from home makes remote working make sense
There’s an obvious difference between working at home and in the office. When you work at home, you are outside the people and digital defence perimeter that protects you when you work in the office. This ranges from there being no receptionist to filter your calls and no colleague to ask about a dubious e-mail, to working beyond the firewall and on public Wi-Fi networks. In fact, recent research by AT&T of 800 cybersecurity professionals across the U.K and Europe found that 55% believed remote working makes their organisation more vulnerable to cyberattacks. So this article on how to stay cybersecurity safe while working from home is important, timely and could help remote working continue to flourish. Read on to discover:
- Why you have to think physically when you WFH.
- Why it’s important to safeguard systems access.
- Why you should use separate work and personal devices.
- Why you must make sure your connections are secure.
- What are the cybersecurity best practices?
- Where to turn for more help?
- The part even your remote IT support people can’t help you with.
Why you have to think physically when you WFH
The physical safety of your laptop, mobile phone, devices, data and confidential information is paramount when you work from home. So be prepared to close down equipment and applications and/or log out whenever you:
- Pop out for groceries or a coffee or even step away from your workstation for a minute or two.
- Live with family (especially young children), friends or roommates.
- You don’t have a separate, secure workspace in your home.
- Make sure that at the end of the working day you log out of all systems and applications, shut down all equipment and store everything out of sight.
Why it’s important to safeguard systems access
You have to safeguard your systems and the confidential information and sensitive data they hold from unauthorised access and prying eyes. So please do:
- As a minimum, password protect your laptop and all other devices from mobiles to tablets. Make your password a strong one. If any of your equipment is stolen, at least this will keep the thief from easily accessing company information.
- Use a variety of passwords to gain access to the equipment, systems, data and files you need. Consider using a password manager to create, control, share and remember the suitably complex passwords you’ll need for this purpose.
- Check whether data encryption is active and usable on your work machine. Your IT department or remote IT support partner could confirm and set this up this for you.
- Turn off the option to share files on your laptop, if you’re connecting your work computer to your home network. This will ensure it’s not visible to other computers in the network.
- Why you should use separate work and personal devices
If you work from home, it’s important to keep your private and professional lives separate and it’s equally true of the devices you use. So at least keep your main work and home computers separate and used only for the purposes for which they were intended. If you can do the same with your mobile devices, that’s a cybersecurity bonus!
And while you’re working from home, don’t:
- Run programs or install software on your work technology, especially from any source you don’t recognise. It’s simply too easy a way to introduce vulnerabilities, viruses or malware.
- Pay your home utility or credit card bills on the same computer you use to compile work spreadsheets. This is because a cybercriminal could exploit your innocuous personal information to gain access to your company’s data.
- Send work-related e-mails from your private e-mail address or vice versa, it’s unprofessional and could get complicated.
- Have your children’s (if you have them) digital curriculum on your work device. These are key targets for threat actors as they enable them to score twice over – gaining access to your business’s network through an unsecured remote laptop and also to the chance to harvest highly valuable personally identifiable information (PII) on young students for selling on the dark web.
Why you must make sure your connections are secure
Using your home Wi-Fi or any public Wi-Fi (in your local coffee shop, say) leaves you vulnerable to scammers, hackers and snoopers. Wherever possible then:
- Only access your business’s Cloud infrastructure via a virtual private network (VPN) that’s been suitably encrypted.
- If a VPN isn’t an option, secure your home Wi-Fi with a strong password.
- Protect access to the settings on your home router with a strong password, too, and definitely change the default password that yours came with.
What are the cybersecurity best practices
Wherever you’re working from – office, home, coffee shop or train carriage – you should know and act upon these key cybersecurity best practices:
Scan any e-mail or text message – especially from sources you don’t recognise – with a cynical eye. And do not click on any link or attachment thus sent without thoroughly checking the credibility and trustworthiness of the source first. A phishing e-mail is the scammer’s method of choice for infecting your IT with a virus or malware.
Look out for Business E-mail Compromise (BEC) attacks, which mimic legitimate e-mails from your business or employer in an effort to get you to open them and, again, infect your systems. These are often disguised as being from senior people in your organisation, so pay close attention to the actual e-mail address of the sender.
- Don’t overexpose yourself on social media now that you’re working from home, instead just stick to your usual routines. And, once again, watch out for scams and misinformation as cybercriminals love these platforms for scamming victims.
- Get and stay up to speed with your employer’s cybersecurity guidelines for remote work. And always ask for clarification if anything is unclear – we’re not all the same level of tech savvy.
- Find out who’s responsible for implementing all those annoying updates, fixes and patches on your hard and software when needed. Is it you, the firm’s IT department or your remote IT support provider? The key thing is that those updates should be completed as quickly as possible.
- See if your work from home setup requires additional security software now that you’re working outside of your company’s digital defence perimeter. And, if it does, who’s responsible for installing it.
- Who is responsible for backing up you the data you use and how? If it’s your responsibility, can you save and back up your local files to a corporate Cloud solution?
- The part even your remote IT support partner can’t help you with
If you’re new to remote working or working from home, it can be daunting and very different to going into the office for the traditional 9 to 5, so try to:
Set yourself up in a workspace that’s private and apart from your living accommodation. It’s better from a peace and quiet point of view and also enables you to close the door on your work at the end of office hours.
- Keep your business and private lives separate from each other, to maintain some kind of work/life balance.
- Maintain a work-like attitude and discipline – get out of bed at the usual time, shower and breakfast in the usual way and be at your phone and laptop at the usual start time.
- Stay motivated, busy and avoid distractions like the TV or Netflix.
- Take regular breaks for lunch and refreshments, this will enable you to have a stretch and rest your screen-tired eyes.
- To stay in touch with colleagues – via Zoom or Facetime and also regular face-to-face gatherings (Covid-19 lockdown restrictions allowing) – because working alone at home can get lonely.
Where to turn for more help?
WFH IT Support (that’s short for Work From Home IT Support!) was established specifically for businesses whose people work at home or remotely – wherever they are in the UK – using Cloud-based solutions, such as Microsoft 365 or Google Google Workspace.
Powered and delivered by the highly experienced and expert cybersecurity team at totality services in London, our IT support partner professionals have earned two consecutive Feefo Gold Trusted Service Awards, Five Star ratings from both Trustpilot and Google, a 98% client retention rate and certification to the renowned Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 standards, so we know we can help you and your people safely and successfully work from home with the right IT support in place.
To find out more give London’s go to remote IT support team a call for a confidential, no obligation chat about your work from home IT support requirements?