It looks like working from home is set to become a ‘thing’ in the UK rather than a response to lockdowns, following statements from government ministers that they won’t insist people need to return to workplaces once pandemic restrictions are lifted.
Companies are already adapting and many have introduced work from home policies and taken to employing people full time who live long distances from their offices, with the understanding that they rarely have to appear in the office.
With this in mind here are some reminders about how to ensure you’re cyber security secure at home. This is important because cyber villains and hackers have exploited pandemic-driven lockdowns and the vulnerabilities that arise from people grafting on keyboards in their front rooms, bedrooms or under the stairs.
In the office it’s the responsibility of IT teams to secure systems but remote workers need to shoulder some responsibility simply because they are working beyond the company network and they don’t want their home network, devices and personal data wrecked by opportunistic villains.
- The basics - Clearly the first and golden rule is to ensure you’re using proven antimalware protection. Your employer may provide this, it may not. But antimalware software protects you against some of the most common, pervasive and ubiquitous threats such as zero-day attacks, malware, spyware, viruses, Trojans, worms and phishing emails that harbour malicious code.
- Value of a VPN - Remote working often means connecting your computer to the company's network but this can create home office 'back doors' that hackers could potentially expose. A good VPN creates a private, encrypted tunnel between a home computer and the office which effectively locks out someone who may be snooping on data that leaves your computer. A good VPN is also simple to use.
- Locking down the home Wi-Fi network - One of the simplest ways to ensure cyber security for remote workers is to strengthen your home Wi-Fi network's security. Create a strong, unique password, rather than relying on the automatic password your router came with. You can access your router’s settings page by typing 192.168.1.1 into your browser and change the password there. Make sure to choose a password that would be difficult for anyone to guess. You can also change your SSID, the name of your wireless network, on the same settings page to make it more difficult for third parties to identify and access your home Wi-Fi network. Don’t use your name, home address, or anything that could be used to identify you.
- For your eyes only - Keep your devices safe and don’t allow other people in the house to use your work laptops, mobiles, and other devices, such as external storage. We’re not suggesting something malicious could happen but accidents do happen. Have you ever seen a young child on a computer? They’ll fiddle with the keyboard randomly, and at speed, and your computer will present all sorts of unusual things on the screen that you’ve never seen before. Similarly the documents you have been working on may simply disappear.
- Tough passwords - One of the simplest yet often overlooked ways to protect yourself when working from home is to strengthen your passwords and ensure that you have good password protection across all your devices. If this proves to be difficult use a password manager that does it for you.
- Thoughts on file storage - Where are you storing your files? Is it in a company cloud storage service? Or on your desktop? For safeties sake it’s better to store files in a single location. This could be a cloud storage service or even an external storage device attached to your computer. This way, you will always have back-up copies of your files in the event of a mishap that may stop you from accessing your original files.