How to Work from Home Securely
Posted by Mr. Idrees Rafiq, Jr., IT Consulting VP, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 5/22/2020

As the coronavirus forces millions to work remotely, your company’s information security is facing unique challenges. This is because remote work environments don't usually have the same safeguards in place as those set up in the office. When someone works in an office, they have several layers of security from their building to the network and the devices they use. On the other hand, when working from home, employees may be juggling caring for children and home schooling, while trying to find a quiet space for a call or to get work done.

To help you work from home more securely, here are five critical steps:

  1. Pay attention. Watch for email messages showing a tremendous sense of urgency, often through fear, intimidation, a crisis, or an important deadline. Cyber attackers are good at creating convincing emails that appear to come from trusted organizations, such as banks, the government, or international organizations. Don’t give into pressure to bypass or ignore security policies or procedures, or an offer too good to be true (no, you did not win the lottery!). Also, be on the alert for messages from a friend or co-worker in which the signature, tone of voice, or wording does not sound like them.
  2. Secure your home network. Because the administrator account is what allows you to configure the settings for your wireless network, you should change the default administrator password. An attacker can quickly discover the default password that the manufacturer has provided. Only allow people you trust to join your network. Require a password for anyone connecting to your wireless network and make sure these passwords are different from the administrator password.
  3. Create strong passwords. When a site asks you to create a password, devise one with at least 12 characters. The more characters your password has, the stronger it is. Using a passphrase, which comprises multiple words such as “bee honey bourbon,” is one of the simplest ways to do this. Using a unique passphrase means creating a different one for each device or online account. This way, if one passphrase is compromised, your other accounts and devices are still safe. To keep up with all those passphrases, consider using a password manager to store them in an encrypted format.
  4. Keep software and hardware up to date. Make sure each of your computers, mobile devices, programs, and apps are running the latest version of its software. Also, ensure your home and Wi-Fi router have the most current firmware available. Cyber attackers are always looking for new vulnerabilities in the software your devices use. When they discover vulnerabilities, they use special programs to exploit them and hack into your phone, laptop, or computer. To stay current, enable automatic updating whenever possible. This rule also applies to internet-connected TVs, baby monitors, security cameras, gaming consoles, and even your car.
  5. Only use work devices for work. Something you most likely don’t have to worry about at the office is children, guests, or other family members using your work laptop or other work devices. Ensure your family and friends understand they cannot use your work devices as they could accidentally erase or modify information or accidentally infect the device.

Filling in the gaps
To help fill in any remaining security gaps, consider the following:

  • When in doubt, type it out. When you receive requests to download a document or donate to a worthy cause, instead of clicking on the email link, visit the organization’s website, typing out the name.
  • Verify attachments and website addresses. When you receive an email, and you’re unsure if the attachment or link/website address is valid, visit virustool (a free resource) to inspect them.
  • Protect sensitive data. Lock your company device while not in use and shred print outs with confidential information.
Categories: Technology Consulting & Compliance
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