For many UK businesses working from home is quickly becoming the new normal. Since advice from the UK Government back in March over 50 per cent of UK workers have been working from home.
It was such a quick decision from the Government that many work from home setups had to be rushed into place. Over time they would have been refined to aid worker productivity but how much work has gone into making the secure?
That is why we have 11 tips to help your business be secure working from home.
Regularly install updates
Particularly if you’re working from a computer you already own but don’t typically use for office work, please check that all updates and patches to Microsoft and other critical software applications have been installed.
We know, updates take time, and it’s all-too-convenient to click ‘Remind Me Later.’ However, many vulnerabilities exist in out-of-date software and are the perfect entry-point for a hacker. You must protect the data that you are entrusted to access. Keep it safe by ensuring your software is up to date.
Update antivirus and anti-malware tools as well
These tools are highly valuable and are designed to reduce risk and keep your computer safe from cybercriminals that want access to your company’s data.
However, just like your office tools, it’s easy to postpone those time-consuming updates—ultimately leaving you at risk. If you’re using a home computer for your work and do not have a paid-for antivirus and anti-malware solution, ask your IT team for help installing a licensed, approved corporate security software to use while working remotely.
Uninstall unnecessary software from your personal computer
If you are using a personal computer, uninstall software that isn’t being used by your family. Software that isn’t being used usually isn’t being updated or patched. It is those patches that prevent hackers from entering through known vulnerabilities. By removing unwanted or unused programs, you have reduced the risk.
Use a virtual private network (VPN) at all times
A VPN is a valuable tool in remote working. It will allow you to connect to your business network securely and help keep cybercriminals out. Don’t forget to re-engage the VPN every time you log on. It’s easy to put your computer to sleep when you walk away to grab lunch, forgetting that you’ve logged off the VPN.
Separate your network
When possible, connect your computer to a different network than the rest of your remote location. It may be as simple as using the company VPN to create that secure connection.
If you are more technically capable, then separate your company computer from the rest of the computers in your remote work location via a different router or firewall. If your mobile data plan allows for unlimited data, consider using the hot spot on your phone instead of a guest network or your home network.
Lock your computer
When you aren’t using your computer, just like at the office, lock the computer to keep family, friends, and maybe even the kids next door from accessing your company data.
Make use of Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) is an additional layer of security for your applications and accounts. When you log in using MFA you are sent a code (usually on your mobile) to gain access. This means even if your password is compromised, your accounts are still secured.
Use a password manager
If your company offers a password manager, please don’t forget to use it to create and store passwords. The goal is to avoid saving passwords in the browser that can be easily compromised.
Sacrificing the convenience is well worth it to avoid a security incident and loss of data. Also using a spreadsheet to save your passwords isn’t much better than saving them in the browser forms. Avoid that when you can.
Ask your IT person about securing the DNS settings on your personal computer
They likely have the software or a tool you can use on your home computer that will help keep you from accidentally going to the wrong places.
Ensure secure browser configuration
Google Chrome extensions can be a hotbed for computer viruses. It’s best not to use them at all. However, at the very least, make sure those you are not using are uninstalled. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask your IT professional.
Careful what you click on
Just because there is a link or an attachment does not mean that you need to click on it. Hover your mouse over the link and see where it wants to take you.
Check for the actual spelling of the domain in the area before the .com, .net, .edu, .gov, or .org looking for anything unusual like the characters ‘1’, ‘l,’ or ‘I’ being leveraged as an imposter domain. Another example would be the letters ‘rn’ instead of ‘m’ or ‘vv’ instead of ‘w.’
We might all be working from home for a while longer as we continue to move through the Covid-19 crisis. Some businesses will even find that working from home suits them better and will stick with it long after the pandemic.
However, you choose to look at remote working the most important thing is to make sure your business is secure. That means your data and your network. Working from home has created new security vulnerabilities that you will not have previously planned for.