The current social distancing rules have forced many companies to make the switch to remote work whether they were ready or not. This unveiled just how unprepared and unsafe home networks are when it comes to standing up to a determined attacker. As such, we offer five tips to help regular people set up a more secure work environment from a distance.
How to Keep Your Home Network Safe for Work
The current world situation is difficult, to say the least. The healthcare and economic systems of almost every country on the globe are negatively impacted by the social distancing rules, and we don’t know yet when the situation will return to normal (if ever).
However, there are companies that managed to adapt to the situation by setting up their workers to work from home. Luckily, this is not a new situation as many people already work remotely in many parts of the world. Even more, this is an upwards trend that’s expected to take over most industries by 2028.
Still, remote workers can be a risk for the safety of the company if it’s not done correctly. When working from home, employees don’t follow the same rules imposed by the company when it comes to file sharing, IT security, or software used. Many home computers don’t use an up to date operating system and rely on free software tools that are easier to hack.
When we combine the idea of low-security remote workers with the recent surge in cyberattacks, the result is a bit chilling.
As such, a safe work environment (albeit a remote one) is a responsibility that both employers and employees share. Since we know cybersecurity and new technologies are not everyone’s cup of tea, we put together a few guidelines to help remote workers up the security of their home network.
So, make sure to read everything carefully, and apply the measures that fit your situation in keeping home network safe during and after the social distancing rules.
Keep Home Network Safe – 5 Tips to Stay Safe While Working from Home
#1: Update the Security of your WiFi
Home WiFi networks are rarely well-protected and many homeowners don’t even bother to change the default security settings on their routers. This makes the work of anyone who is trying to break your network so much easier!
So, to avoid getting a data breach via your WiFi, follow these basic steps:
- Change the SSID (service set identifier or the name of the network). If you keep the default one (usually provided by the router or the company that offers the service), you tell an external actor that the password is also the default one or something extremely generic.
- Change the Password of the router – If you don’t know how to go about this, you can ask your service provider. Also, make sure it is strong (at least 20 characters long with numbers, letters, and various symbols) and avoid using personal information (pets’ names, children’s names, dates of birth, and so on).
- Enable network encryption – Most modern routers offer encryption possibilities, but they are turned off by default. Make sure to check the router’s settings and turn on encryption (the most effective is WPA2).
#2: Update your Software
If you’re that person who checks “Remind me later” when it comes to software updates, it’s time to stop!
Software updates are not there just to annoy you. This is a form of support provided by the producer to keep your device safe from various vulnerabilities and flaws that could become gateways for hackers.
As such, make sure that every software item you use (including the operating system and router firmware) has the latest updates installed and running.
#3: Use a Solid Security Solution
Stay away from public networks for as much as possible. And, if you do have to use them, take all the necessary precautions. This is the first rule of online safety!
The second rule is about using a reliable antivirus solution. Many people think that just because they have a free antivirus on their systems they are safe. This is completely false and this way of thinking can lure people into a false sense of security.
For an extra layer of protection, you can use a VPN solution. It may slow down your connection a bit, but it’s a price worth paying.
Lastly, you should consider taking an online course on cybersecurity. These courses are affordable, easy to understand, and flexible, but most importantly, they offer valuable information on IT security and protection against the most common threats.
#4: Separate Work from Personal
Working from home can get a bit messy if you don’t establish clear boundaries with the family, the clients and colleagues, and even yourself.
For instance, if possible, try to use a different computer for work and another device for personal activities. If not, make sure you have separate profiles for work and fun and that both profiles are users without administrative rights. Also, if more people use the same computer, make a separate profile for guests (again, no administrative rights).
#5: Change Passwords Frequently
Let’s be honest – the standard username/password system is flawed and, with that many data breaches, it’s no longer effective. Add to this the fact that many people don’t understand the purpose of a strong and unique password and you have the perfect recipe for hacking.
Right now, the most convenient way around this system is two-factor authentication, but it can be difficult to implement and not exactly cheap.
As such, to make sure your professional accounts remain safe, you should change the passwords every two or three months. Also, stay up to date with the latest data breaches, and if any of the platforms you’re currently using was attacked, change the password immediately.
Yes, it can be a bit daunting to make sure your online presence is safe from prying eyes, but the alternative is much worse!
These measures should be applied by anyone who uses the Intenet to keep their home network safe, but if you work remotely, they are mandatory. Also, we strongly recommend doing more research on the topic of cybersecurity to find new ways of keeping your business safe while beyond the social distancing rules set by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus.