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8 Simple Ways To Strengthen Your Home Office Security

Whether it’s personal or for work, your data deserves to be protected.

Cybersecurity is not just a concern for those who work in traditional offices or businesses. It’s a risk everywhere. As more people started working from home last year and continue to work from home now, data breaches and other digital crimes will continue to be a growing threat.

According to an FBI report, 2020 was the worst year on record for victims of internet crime. And that was just in the United States. There has never been a greater need for awareness of security risks and how to counter them.

Why is your home office such a tempting target?

The tech is already in place with home WiFi, laptop computers, desktops, tablets, and smart home devices. Any one of those could serve as an open invitation to malware, viruses, or spy software. And, unfortunately, whether it be from lack of budget, time, or knowledge, many people leave their systems open for attack.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to protect your essential data and make your home office more secure.

Have and follow a remote work policy

If you’re working from home for someone else, and that company has provided you with a remote work policy, treat that policy seriously. This is particularly important if your business has to deal with regulatory compliance issues. Failure to follow those could result in severe fines, loss of business, and loss of your job.

If you work for yourself, go ahead and write up a home cybersecurity policy. Do this both as an exercise and to serve as a checklist to go over every month or two to make sure you’re keeping up with security,

Beware of phishing scams

Before clicking on any incoming links, preview them first by hovering over them with your mouse and examining where the link leads to. Is it a legitimate site? Are there misspellings or unusual domain locations showing up?

Then don’t click that link.

Be wary of any email or message that comes to you with a link or attachment that you don’t recognize or expect.

Close or delete apps that are suspicious or vulnerable

To reduce the avenues for attacks on your network devices, delete or block any applications or services that you don’t use regularly. This will lessen the risk of software with security vulnerabilities from being used by potential bad actors.

Likewise, don’t download apps unless you are confident they are secure and necessary for your work.

Use social media with caution

Not everyone who sees your social media is a friend. As much as you wouldn’t want to reveal vacation plans on social media—thus letting burglars know when you won’t be home—nor should you give out too much information on the work you do from home.

It’s no one’s business but your clients what sort of work you do at home. This is especially true if you work with sensitive information.

Keep current with security tech

While it may seem like a hassle, it’s worth your time and peace of mind to stay current with the latest antivirus and anti-malware software available. Taking care of it early means you will be less likely to have to deal with damaged or stolen data later.

As crucial as installing anti-malware software is keeping what you already have installed properly updated. Keep an eye out for update notifications, and make sure you’re prepared for the latest threats out there.

While you’re taking care of your security software, consider setting firewalls on all your devices—at least those used for work. Make sure that your online traffic is what it’s supposed to be.

Back up your data

Security concerns or not, it’s always a good idea to regularly make backup copies of your data. Consider doing this weekly at least, but more frequently would be more prudent. Should your data fall victim to a ransomware attack or virus, having backup files on hand will save you a lot of time and trouble.

Even if issues arise from something different like a power surge or hardware fail, you can take comfort in knowing your data is safe and recoverable.

Proper password practices

Strong passwords are an absolute must. If you’re not taking steps to up your password game, you’re leaving yourself open for all manner of trouble.

  • Use a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Don’t group numbers or special characters at the very beginning or end of a password.
  • Avoid using names—even the names of pets.
  • Do not share your password with others.
  • Do not use the same password elsewhere.

Simple steps go a long way in protecting the integrity of your network.

Lock down your home network

Go over the user permissions on all your devices and permit access only to those who need to be on your network. Don’t rely on default passwords to keep your devices secure. All devices and smart appliances connected to your home network should have their passwords changed every few months.

Additional Tips

There’s no such thing as being too prepared. Here are a couple of more quick security tips to keep in mind.

  • Avoid using public WiFi. Use a VPN when possible.
  • When not home, make sure your doors are locked and your computers physically secure. Lock laptops, tablets, and other smaller devices into drawers or cabinets.
  • Don’t leave passwords written down on papers that are out in the open.
  • Never insert found thumb drives into your computer. If you don’t know the thumb drive’s origin, consider it highly suspect.

Protecting your data

Post-pandemic, many people are still working the bugs out of the work-from-home revolution. Even long-time freelancers still occasionally struggle with some facets of working from home.

Cybercriminals are all too aware of this, and threats continue to rise.

The good news is that you can stay ahead of these threats by taking simple, straightforward steps. You can make working from home as safe as working anywhere else.

Maybe safer.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 John Teehan

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