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So many people are now working from home, and this has resulted in an increase in phishing and other forms of cyberattacks. This means, if you have your sights set on working remotely or if you’re already working from home, there are many working practices that you should implement to prevent a cybersecurity crisis.
In this article, we will share the top 6 cybersecurity tips to help home-based businesses that are looking to maintain a security standard that ensures minimal chances of data breaches and data theft.
1. Be on Top of Your Businesses Security Guidelines
Probably the most basic, but also most important security tip for any remote work is to follow, all company cybersecurity rules and guidelines. A lot of large-scale companies and organizations, have precautions in place that are designed to protect their workforce, along with any confidential data from cybersecurity threats. If you are not sure about any security measures or aren’t well-versed in the various equipment required, then you should have an IT team in place. If you receive an email from an unknown source or notice any activity on your system that you do not understand, then you should have an IT team in place that you can contact. Your company should have antivirus software, VPNs, and other security tools in place that you can and should take advantage of, as this will protect your business from any potential data breaches.
2. Train Employees to Spot Phishing Emails
With so many people forced to work from home, not to mention, individuals self-isolating, it makes sense that people would be constantly on the lookout for new developments. However, one thing most people should know from the onset, is that any reliable information on the current pandemic, will not arrive to them via an unsolicited email.
You want all your employees to be aware of this, so that they do not end up clicking on any links or downloading any attachments in emails sent to them, professing to be about the pandemic. If you want to remain up-to-date on the latest news and developments, in general, then you should seek out the most reliable sources, like news outlets and the government.
3. Secure you’re Wi-Fi
One of the most important cybersecurity tips when it comes to working from home is to secure your Wi-Fi connection. If a hacker was to breach your network, then they would gain access to all of your systems and devices which they can then use for nefarious activity. The first measure you want to take is changing your router’s default password. Go with something unique and complex. If you want even greater security, then you should also create a unique wireless network name. Go with something that doesn’t include any personal information about you, such as your address or name.
Enabling network encryption is another step you can take to secure your home wireless network. You should also make sure your network system is up-to-date with the latest patches and security updates. Another final thing you should never do is work from a public Wi-Fi network, maybe at a local park or café. Because, despite how tempting it may be, it most certainly isn’t worth the associated risk. Public Wi-Fi networks are prime targets for hackers, which is why it’s also best to work from a secure location, behind a network that is properly protected.
4. Consider Using Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
So what exactly is MFA? Well, one thing we know for sure, is that passwords can be compromised. However, with the implementation of MFA, you increase account security by providing an additional layer of security to prove one’s identity, when signing into an account or app. This new layer of security will improve overall security for any or all work applications.
When you opt for two-step verification, any time an end user attempts to sign into a device, they’ll be required to provide a security code, which may be sent via SMS to a phone or via email, just to verify the person is who they claim to be. If you have two-step verification disabled, then security codes will be sent periodically, whenever the service detects a possible risk to your account. With Microsoft, you have the Microsoft Authenticator app, which can be used to help you sign into your account(s) without the use of a password, that’s if you don’t want to use text email, or a phone call. This makes Microsoft’s MFA an excellent choice for businesses to use with Microsoft 365, for example.
5. Keep Sensitive Files Secure
It probably goes without saying, that you should keep your most sensitive files stored securely. One measure that you can take for your most confidential files, is to lock them behind a password, within a folder. You can also use encryption, making the end user provide a password to view the file, like in Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Office. There are also cloud-based, encrypted sharing companies that you can use to store or share your data. Such platforms are definitely the go-to as they tend to be more secure than email, for example.
Another good idea is to keep all your most important files backed up somewhere. This is especially important in the event of a ransomware attack or hardware failure. You can put all your files on an external hard drive or SSD drive, and password-protect access to them. If you also have physical paper copies of work files, then you should have them stored offsite, in a secure location.
6. Keep Your Operating System and Software Up-To-Date
One of the most important aspects of work-from-home security has to be keeping all your software, including your operating system up to date. If you’re on a Windows-based system, then Microsoft will be consistently and constantly pushing out new updates, that you’ll want to have installed on your system, ASAP. If possible, you should also consider installing the latest iteration of whatever operating system you’re on. If you are on a laptop system, then you may need to seek help from your IT team, before going ahead and start upgrading things.
In addition to that, you also want to keep all your software and apps up to date, which may include things like your web browser. Most programs installed on your system will automatically check for updates and install when prompted. If you notice that your programs and apps are no longer updating, then you should take the initiative to do it yourself. If you have any outdated programs installed on your system, then you should definitely consider uninstalling them. Hackers will typically look for dated programs with known vulnerabilities, as they know they can use those vulnerabilities to access your system. So do take all necessary precautions to keep everything up-to-date.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support https://www.compuchenna.co.uk.