Many businesses are having to rush to remote working for the first time, but it’s important not to let your security slide during the transition. By taking a few simple precautions, working from home can be as secure as working from an office. These tips will help your whole team work from home safely, wherever they are in the world.
The first thing is to make sure you work with devices set up to keep company information safe.
Use the safest device available. If your computers are provided by work, use them. If they’re not, make sure you work from your own device. Don’t work from public computers, or computers belonging to friends, family or anyone else – these could be insecure in any number of ways. If it’s possible to designate a computer solely to work, it’s a good idea to do that.
Set up device passwords. Make sure all devices you work with are password-protected. If someone finds one unattended, you don’t want them to be able to use it.
Encrypt storage. The devices you use should also be set up with full disk encryption so any data stored on them is kept as safe as possible, even if someone were to steal the laptop or obtain a copy of the data. Most current operating systems support the encryption of device storage.
Keep software up to date. Make sure you keep all software up to date on the devices you work with. That’s everything from the operating system to the apps you use, whether for work or personally. If possible, set operating systems and apps to automatically update. This will make sure any software vulnerabilities are patched as soon as possible.
Keep hardware safe. If you ever need to work outside of home, there are steps you can take to keep company information and property safe:
- Angle screens so they’re harder for other people to see, and invest in a screen protector.
- Lock screens when away from a device, even if it’s only for a moment.
- Never leave a device in a car.
- Keep devices close at all times.
Use only the software you’re cleared to use on work machines. This includes:
- Web browsers
- Browser extensions
- Word processing software
- Communication apps
- Project management software
- Developer and other specialist tools
Use a dedicated work browser. These days, a lot of work is done in the web browser. If you don’t have a dedicated work computer, it’s a good idea to have one dedicated web browser (or browser profile) for work and another for personal use. On your work browser, make sure you only use allowed browser extensions. This helps keep work-oriented accounts and data secure.
Most modern home networks are fairly secure, but there are some basic steps you should take to keep company information as safe as possible.
Update routers. Your home router may not have been updated in some time. Check your firmware and apply any outstanding updates. If you’ll be working remotely for the long term, make sure you update your router at least once per year. Keeping firmware up to date will patch any exploits to keep your network as secure as possible.
Change default passwords. It’s also possible that you’ve never gotten round to changing the default administrator password on your router. Theoretically, this is as good as giving away network administration rights to anyone (or anything) who’s ever had access to the Wi-Fi network. Make sure you change your default router password if you never have.
Be safe on public networks. These days, many websites use secure data transfer, making public Wi-Fi safer than it used to be. Look for the lock in your browser address bar to make sure the site you’re on uses encryption – especially if you’re sharing any personal data, including your login details. If you’re working outside of the home or using an untrusted network, it’s still a good idea to use a virtual private network (VPN) or a personal hotspot to protect against any network vulnerabilities.
We’ve looked at various steps you can take to help keep company data safe. But there are also things to consider when it comes to the data itself.
Avoid downloading information. As far as possible, don’t download any important, sensitive, or confidential information, especially if it’s about your customers. Regularly check what data you’re storing locally and permanently delete anything that isn’t needed. Where possible, work using secure cloud applications where access can be properly controlled and monitored. And working in the cloud means you never have to worry about backing up your data.
Use the right tools. If you need to share confidential information, make sure you use a secure method. We’re offering 1Password Business free for six months, so that companies can share passwords and other important information securely while working remotely.
Support your team
Use technical support. If you’re not sure about any of these steps, don’t suffer in silence. Contact your work IT department or technical support team. They should be able to help.
Create a remote working handbook. Done right, remote working can be a productive and rewarding experience for everyone. You can help set your team up for success by creating a remote working handbook.