The past year has seen a massive shift in the number of people working from home. Granted, this has not been through choice but necessity in order to limit the spread of covid-19. However, with more and more people seeing the benefits of working from home, it doesn’t look like this trend will halt once things return to “normal”. With this increase in the numbers of WFH employees there is also an increase in security concerns from companies so how can we be safer? Here are some working from home and security tips to help make your WFH environment safer, both for you, and your employer.
Old Fashioned Security
When we think of working from home and security most of us immediately think of cyber security – and I’ll come to that later – however there is also the issue of good old-fashioned physical security. Despite the fact that a lot of us are working from home it is still good practice to ensure that the house is secure. I know myself that once I go into the spare room (office I mean!) and put on some music that I don’t have a clue what is going on downstairs. Not that I always have the music up loud when I’m working (maybe on Fridays!) but it does sometimes mask the sound of the doorbell. Other times I am sometimes on zoom meetings (which seem to get more and more frequent). As I have the “office” I don’t usually require headphones but if you were to wear them then it limits external sounds which may indicate something is “going on”.
Its an easy fix to make a quick inspection of the doors and windows before going into your “office” in the morning to make sure they are all properly secure and no chance of anyone gaining access. Another simple fix to give peace of mind might be to install a small camera in the main room or somewhere overlooking the access points. I have once installed in the kitchen (which has patio doors) so I can keep an eye. The one I have can even be set up to send you an alert if any movement is detected for further peace of mind. It automatically records and the video can be stored either on a memory card or in the ‘cloud’ for extra security. You can take a look at similar type camera’s HERE.
Remember to keep your “home office” secure as well. I know that, in a lot of cases, the set-up has been a temporary arrangement but if at all possible ensure you keep your laptop safe (maybe in a locked drawer) when you are not using it.
Something else that has increased is the number of deliveries I am receiving. I’m not sure if it’s a case of “I’m at home so I’m ordering more” or if its down to “not being out so much that I have to order stuff to get delivered”.
Whatever the reason I know that I am getting more and more boxes (and answering the door more)! In order to avoid missing a delivery, and I have done this before despite being in the house, it may be worth installing a Ring doorbell which allows you to see who is at the door from your phone, and speak to them too. This particular make of “video doorbell” can also be linked to Alexa as well as other cameras around the house making for complete coverage as well as peace of mind.
Another even simpler option may be to get a cordless doorbell – the one I have linked to even has two ringer units which can be plugged in to any socket (meaning no batteries required) so one could easily be put in the “office” meaning you never miss the delivery driver again.
I was amazed when I saw the following chart which shows how
long it takes a hacker to crack your password. A lot of short passwords can be hacked instantly which is really worrying. It has certainly made me think about what type of password I use in the future. Just increasing a password by a couple of characters can increase the amount of time it takes (and make it less likely that a hacker will bother). This goes for your router as well as your software passwords.
A lot of people leave their router on the default password and this makes them highly susceptible to cybercriminals. Make sure you change your router password to something unique.
Encryption is the process of encoding information so that it can not be read if it is intercepted so it makes sense wherever possible to ensure this is switched on if it is available.
On a computer running Windows this can be done by turning on BitLocker or on a MacOS by turning on FileVault. If you use an Android or iOS phone then these should already be running encryption by default as long as the software is up to date. Check on your device to make sure its running the latest updates.
This goes for your computer as well. Many operating systems will automatically apply updates when any vulnerabilities are discovered but some will require your computer to be rebooted to complete so ensure that you are turning your computer off at the end of the day to allow any update patches to be properly applied.
One simple thing we can do to protect our devices is to enable automatic locking. I know I have frequently seen laptops being left in coffee shops while their owner nips to the bathroom or goes to get another drink and they just leave them unattended and unlocked. Enabling auto-lock may seem annoying but it wouldn’t be as annoying as having your laptop hacked by someone.
If at all possible use a virtual private network (VPN). This works by linking your computer to a network securely and with encryption so that it cannot be intercepted. This is like connecting your computer directly into a private network and would enable you to send and receive data securely.
That’s just a few hints and tips to try to keep you safe working from home. For some general safety on working from home check out this article HERE. Do you have any tips or hints you can share? If you do or if you want to comment please send me a comment in the box below. I would love to hear from you. In the meantime, stay safe.