Here we are at our 3rd article of the Secure Living In The Digital Age series – Top Cyber Security Practices For Your Home Office.
As we live in a world where our morning commutes often involve moving from our bedroom to our home office, it’s no surprise that the next topic we take on is home office cyber security.
Why? Well, while working in our pajamas has its perks, there is also a twist: we have to make sure all our home devices, network, and data stay secure against cyber threats.
Now it’s more important than ever to take all precautions necessary and protect your home office setup. So, how can we keep our home offices safe and sound?
Read on as we take one by one some of the top cyber security practices for the home office.
1. Keep your Wi-Fi safe
It all starts with your Wi-Fi network as this gets you on the internet so that you can actually work. It’s essential to ensure that your Wi-Fi is protected, so first change that default router password, use a strong, unique password for your network, and activate WPA3 encryption if your router supports it.
Also don’t forget to regularly update your router’s firmware and if your router is old check if it’s time for an upgrade.
2. Use Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Imagine walking through a busy market, invisible, that’s what a VPN (Virtual Private Network) does for your online presence, it masks your data from potential eavesdroppers. A VPN is like a secure tunnel for your data to travel through the internet, that’s why you must have one for your home office.
So, invest in a reputable VPN service and make sure it’s always on when accessing office files or any sensitive data. We recommend you use a VPN whenever accessing company accounts or data from home to encrypt and protect your connection.
And, if you ever decide to work from a coffee shop, a VPN it’s even more important.
3. Choose strong, unique passwords
We keep on talking about this, and we know it might sound like we repeat ourselves, but strong and unique passwords are absolutely mandatory!
So make sure your passwords are a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Never use “12345” or “password.” And you can also opt for a password manager to keep track of your growing password list.
4. Activate Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
2FA or MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) adds a secondary (and even a third) lock on your digital data. It works like this – in case someone guesses your password, they would still need a second form of identification to access your account.
2FA can be a fingerprint, a one-time code sent to your phone, or facial recognition. And once you turn on 2FA for all essential accounts (which we highly recommend), an extra layer of security is added, and you can be sure that isn’t enough for somebody to simply guess your password alone.
We recommend at least activating 2FA for your primary work email, cloud storage, and everything work-related. Consider using an authenticator app such as Google Authenticator or Authy.
5. Update your software on a regular basis
Software updates are like regular health check-ups for your devices. So, make sure you always update and use the latest version of your operating system, antivirus software, browsers, video conferencing apps and other such important applications. They often contain patches that fix security vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.
We recommend enabling automatic updates to ensure you never miss any security patches. If that’s not always possible, just set a regular time each week or month to check for and install software, app, and operating system updates.
6. Learn about phishing scams
Phishing scams or attempts are creative ways for cyber criminals to trick you into revealing sensitive information about your or your work.
So, when you receive emails or messages that request sensitive information or demand immediate action and they seem suspicious, well, then they probably are. if something doesn’t feel right, don’t click on any links or download attachments from unverified sources.
For example, they’ll often mimic trusted organizations, like Facebook or Google, to trick you into giving away personal info. If you’re in doubt, always double check the information you received with the organization directly.
To make sure the email is legit, you should always verify the URLs and sender addresses.
7. Back up your data and have a recovery plan
Backing up your data should be a regular part of your routine. It’s also an important part of a contingency plan in case something goes wrong.
For example, if your system gets infected by a virus or falls prey to a ransomware attack, having a recent backup can save your work data.
So, schedule regular backups of your important files to an external drive or a cloud service. And know the steps to take if you suspect a security breach, such as changing passwords, notifying necessary parties, and possibly seeking expert help.
8. Share your cyber security knowledge with the family
You’re working from home, which means you’re also sharing the network with all your family members. So, have a chat with them about basic online do’s and don’ts.
Make sure they understand that sharing a network means sharing responsibility and that their actions can affect your security.
9. Keep all your devices secure
All your digital data has a physical home: your devices. So, securing these in any way possible is also essential.
And, let’s also not forget that when you work from home, your little ones or other family members might be tempted to play around with company devices.
For all these reasons, you need to make sure you keep your work devices in secure places when you’re not using them. Also, you use webcam covers, screen locks, full-disk encryption, and always have a trustworthy antivirus running.
10. Know when to ask for help
When you suspect a breach or know you clicked on the wrong link, you should immediately consult an IT expert, and ensure actions are taken as fast as possible to mitigate the damage.
That means you need a go-to IT expert or reliable helpline to reach out 24/7. Knowing who to turn to in case something goes wrong can make all the difference.
One last thing, the cyber security world is constantly evolving, with new measures and types of cyber attacks appearing daily. So, make sure you follow reputable tech news sites and know the latest Cyber Security Trends. Be part of online cyber security communities, or simply read blogs like this one (wink) to stay updated.
Read all the articles of the series: Secure Living In The Digital Age
We know that after reading all these best practices on how to secure your home office in this digital age, it might seem that the universe of cyber security is vast and intimidating. But by following these steps, you’re well-equipped to face the challenges head-on.
And remember, it’s not just about the tools and technology, it’s also about having mindful habits. Here’s to a safer, more secure digital life from the comfort of our homes!