Remote work is becoming increasingly popular with today’s professionals, especially with everything going on in the world right now – the ongoing pandemic, the need for flexibility and new technologies making it ever-easier to work from anywhere at any time. As such, it’s likely that we’ll see this trend carrying on in the well into future with more and more people choosing to work remotely. And why wouldn’t they? After all, there’s no commute, you can work in your pyjamas and it means you can be at home whenever you need to sign for that important parcel!
That said, this style of working is not without its problems as it can increase the risk of a cybersecurity issue or data breach. But the good news is, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself against online criminals. To help you do this, we’ve pulled together a cybersecurity checklist that you can use to make sure you’re keeping your devices and information safe when working remotely.
- Make sure you encrypt your devices
As a remote worker, you might find yourself working in public spaces or on the move a lot and this can make you more of a target for hackers. It also increases the likelihood of your device being lost or stolen. Because of this, it’s a good idea to encrypt your devices and data so that only you can access the information within using an encryption code. There are different ways you can turn on encryption depend on your device, but a quick internet search will tell you how if you’re unsure.
- Ensure you’ve got the right security systems in place
It might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often people neglect to add security systems to their devices. Particularly those who work remotely. After all, when you work in an office you often have a tech team and dedicated systems already in place to protect you. When working remotely, you need to make sure you take the same precautions. At the very least you should have anti-virus and anti-malware software and firewall installed on your device.
- Keep your software up-to-date
Outdated software can leave room for hackers to break into your systems or inject your devices with viruses or malware. Updates are there for a reason, they patch any bugs or holes in the system and this helps to keep your device and information safe. For this reason, you need to make sure you keep all software, apps or plugins as up to date as possible – especially any security software you have installed on your devices.
- Disable any automatic logins
Automatic logins save you time having to re-enter you details every time your log in to a system or program, which can be very handy! But it also poses a security threat. Imagine if someone gets hold of your laptop or takes a quick peek when you pop to the toilet whilst working in your favourite cafe (though we don’t recommend you ever leave your laptop unattended).
Plus, even when you’re with your device you never know where there might be prying eyes. In these circumstances, automatic logins can be a cybersecurity nightmare! As such, it’s a good idea to turn off automatic login and even enable automatic locking so your device locks itself if it’s inactive for a certain amount of time.
- Make sure you’ve got a strong password policy
You must also make sure you’ve got strong passwords in place for all work-related devices and accounts. Again, as a remote worker, you might be more of a target and if your device is hacked or stolen, weak passwords make it easier for cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive information. You should use a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers and characters where possible and choose unique passwords – don’t use the same one for everything!
If your memory isn’t great you can always invest in a password manager. These will generate strong passwords for you, autofill them where required (but safely) and protect them all in a vault which only you can access with the master passcode. This way you only have to remember one code and not 20 different passwords.
- Use a VPN or trusted network
If you’re working remotely in a public space, you need to be extra cautious. Public Wi-Fis are great when you’re running low on data, but they also pose a serious security threat. Using a virtual private network (VPN) improves your online security and makes it harder for cybercriminals to snoop on your traffic or intercept your connection. As a general rule, it’s best to avoid working or even replying to emails whilst using public Wi-Fi unless you’re using a VPN.
If you work from home a lot, you must also consider your internet connection. It might be your own, but there are a few steps you can take to make sure it’s secure. Be sure to change the password from the default one it came with and again, make sure you choose a strong, unique password. It’s also a good idea to change the name to something generic but that also doesn’t give away your provider or anything about who you are and what you’re using the internet for. So ‘Sam’s office’ probably isn’t the best idea.
- Make sure to do regular backups
Last but not least, one thing that’s really important as a secure remote access worker is to regularly backup your data. That way, you know everything is safe should something happen to your device. It also means if someone hacks your system, website or files you can wipe your device and lock them out before restoring all your files with relatively little drama. It’s a good idea to run backups at least once a week, but some devices will automatically do this daily.
For this, choosing a good cloud storage service is important, especially if you handle lots of sensitive data. Many of the cloud services will also come with their own security systems for extra peace of mind. So spend some time doing your research and choose the right service provider for you. Then, don’t forget to backup your data regularly.