Working from home guide

Work From Home Guide

Staying Secure While Working From Home

Work from Home Guide: Staying Secure While Working from Home

Working from home has become an increasingly viable option in recent years, with companies around the world gradually developing policies. However, the current situation around the world has changed the typical conditions of remote work – and employers have had to manage the fallout from asking their entire workforce to work from home on short notice.

In the first part of our Work from Home Guide we discussed how to create a proper workplace while embracing new technical settings such as handling your workload in Office 365. Part two was dedicated to showing thebenefits of a streamlined communication and collaboration strategy when using Teams as your virtual working hub. But how about security?

You’re in Control of Your Own Workplace

Working from home is a choice that many public health organizations are applauding, and many other organizations are seeing the merit in asking employees to work remotely. However, it’s difficult to create comprehensive and secure protocols when a large amount of employees suddenly need to work from home. Many organizations are focusing solely on improving productivity while turning a blind eye to security – which could be a grave mistake, given that remote work creates new vulnerabilities.

Organizations need to begin taking steps to shore up security for remote workers today. Most of these approaches begin with properly educating employees, while others require more involvement from your IT team. Let’s take a look at a few of the most important ways to help your company stay secure during this challenging time.

Keep Your Place Secure When Working From Home

Many security challenges can be solved simply by educating employees about their obligations when working from home. An informed workforce is a security manager’s greatest asset – so, don’t delay in sharing important guidance. Implementing a secure technical setup is the first step you need to take. Even when working from home there are some essentials you must have in place to ensure a secure working environment:

  • Find a secure connection - For best results, workplaces should provide remote desktops or VPNs, since home networks are not as secure as the average company network. Avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi access points – such as those provided by local coffee shops - under any circumstances. If a you experience an outage, you should use mobile data to inform supervisors.
  • Protect your router from external access – The first point hackers love to attack are routers connected via DSL, cable or fiber optic. Secure your router with your own password and never reuse the password in the future.
  • Secure your WLAN – Surprisingly often, households are working with an open WiFi that can be accessed and seen by neighbors and potential intruders. Choose a complex and long password to secure your home network properly.
  • Update your work devices regularly – Keeping your anti-virus programs up-to-date should be a no-brainer. Make sure you run updates of your operating systems as well.

Almost everybody in your organization uses Microsoft 365. Thankfully, this suite of applications provides a fair amount of intrinsic protection through two-factor authentication, access badges, and encryption. While these built-in security services are valuable, users should still be reminded of their own security responsibilities – after all, you are also is in charge of securing data within your working environment. Following some simple rules will help you to keep your workspace and sensitive data secure:

  • Never leave your work devices unattended – If you have to leave your workplace always make sure you are logged out and no one can access your device.
  • Choose the right location for working and taking phone / video calls - Make sure you are working in a private room where roommates, spouses, or children cannot hear private company discussions.
  • Take the right precautions when using your webcam - During conference calls, you should blur your background or set a static image to avoid accidentally exposing personally identifiable information. When the webcam is not in use, it should be covered or unplugged to cut off access to hackers.
  • Beware of photos you share – You should never share photos of your work station on social media – they may inadvertently expose confidential information.
  • Stay alert for scams. Scammers are aware that many employees feel off-kilter following this sudden move to remote work, so they may ramp up phishing scams. Make sure you know how to spot a phishing attempt – this includes looking for misspelled links, ignoring messages from unapproved senders, and asking for help when they’re unsure. Don’t forget that a crucial piece of security is avoiding mental fatigue – if you feel overwhelmed by a torrent of emails, take a 5-10 minute break before combing through them. This will improve your mental acuity, allowing you to identify scam attempts at a glance.

Security is Not a Sprint – It’s a Marathon

Despite the crisis situation and the fast implementation of the home office, it is important to proceed carefully. Hastily implemented changes that affect the IT and information security of the company always harbor the risk of data manipulation and cyberattacks.

In addition to implementing the necessary short-term security measures, it is also important to develop a long-term strategy. This includes the establishment of technical security solutions and binding guidelines and the constant relay of information and awareness to employees for information security in the home office. Stay tuned for our next chapter where we will explore what actions IT Managers should undertake to support and maintain security while working from home.

Final Thoughts

Securing your home base isn’t easy – and when time is of the essence, it’s difficult to make choices that offer the right balance between security and productivity. Taking on your own responsibility and following some basic guidelines are a few simple ways to improve security when working from home. By taking the steps to improve security for remote workers today, you will protect yourself from malicious activity tomorrow.

Working From Home?

Make sure to follow some basic guidelines and prepare your home workplace properly.
Download our new Security Checklist today and protect yourself from malicious activity tomorrow.

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Author

Bala Sathunathan

Bala Sethunathan

Director, Security Practice & CISO

Software Portfolio Management

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