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How to Protect Your Data While Working From Home in 2021

How to Protect Your Data While Working From Home in 2021
April 21, 2021 Tom Clark

Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic has hit the world, cybersecurity professionals are reporting an enormous increase in hacking and scamming incidents.

With so many people working from home, hackers are capitalizing on the vulnerability of the weak ones.  Not only those with less secure systems are becoming the victims, but those desperate to find answers to what ails them. In times like these, data protection has become imperative than ever.

Anyone who’s working from home, these are some tips to keep your data safe:

Use a VPN

Most organizations require their employees to use a VPN for accessing company data. VPNs have vulnerabilities too, which is why companies must ensure the VPN is secure to use. Mostly, VPNs have a username and a password for authentication but to enhance the encryption further, use a Point to point tunneling protocol.

Last year, when my organization sent its employees to work from home, we were advised to sign up for Spectrum internet packages for speedy Internet. To protect our Internet connection, we were advised to use a VPN to access work. It was mandatory upon us to update the passwords of the VPN regularly and turn it off after the 8-hour work shift. We are still required to follow these protocols!

Secure the Home Office

When working from home, never throw physical security out of the window. Whenever you have to leave the house, lock up the home office.

If you don’t have a particular workspace and you work from any part of the house that is convenient to you, make sure you store your laptop in a locked cupboard whenever you leave the house. Do your best to keep your home workspace as secure as possible.

Encrypt Your Devices

Turning on encryption reduces the security risk of lost or stolen devices. The thief will need a PIN or biometrics to access the contents of the device in case it’s stolen.

Here are encryptions options available based on your device:

iOS: Default in IOS 8 and above

Android: Default in android 6 and above

Windows: BitLocker

Linux: dm-crypt

macOS: FileVault

Lock the Screen

Always lock the screen of your laptop whenever you walk away from it whether you are at the office or working from home.

To keep your device safe, enable automatic locking. Configure the amount of time such as 30 seconds or 5 minutes for the device to lock itself up automatically. This feature is enabled by default on most modern devices.

Keep Work and Personal Devices Separate

Always carve boundaries between personal and professional life, especially when WFH. It’s cumbersome to switch between devices when you decide to pay a bill or shop online. Instead of opening up another laptop, why not do it from your phone. This would be so much convenient.

This practice will keep your sensitive data from being exposed in case the device is compromised.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Organizations have moved towards two-factor authentication for data security management. As per this method, the user’s identity is first confirmed by their username and password. Then, another piece of information is required for verification. This could be a PIN or a secret question.

Enable 2FA on all accounts possible. This additional layer of security will provide your remote workers peace of mind in times when passwords alone are not enough to keep your accounts safe.

Some companies are moving towards multi-factor authentication for adding another layer of security. This authentication is complex but it’s worth it.

Use Firewall, Antivirus and Anti-Malware Program

Enable and update firewalls, antivirus and antimalware on all your devices whether it’s laptop or smart device.

Since all employees don’t have the same level of technical expertise, companies must manage the installation and upgrade of these programs remotely. Once these software are in place and periodically updated, you will feel much confident about the security of your device as well as data.

Learn to Recognize Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are the biggest security risk. Unfortunately, if you don’t have enough knowledge about them, you may end up comprising personal as well as organizational information.

These emails are quick to identify when you are in the house but when working remotely, anyone can fall into the trap of the hacker. In case you didn’t know, phishing emails look as if they come from someone with the company. The email often contains a link to download something, which could be harmful software.

Never consider these emails to be legitimate. Don’t reply to them, fill out any form or give personal details such as credit card numbers, addresses, or social security number. Always call the sender of the email to verify information in case you have doubts.

Final Advice

No doubt working from home is a big adjustment for many even in 2021. Take everything one day at a time, including these security tips.