How to Make Your Home Office Cyber Secure
Posted by Tracy Seward – Marketing Manager
With so many benefits to working from home – freedom, flexibility, comfort, to name a few – it’s easy to forget there are some added risks to making your living from your house.
Cybercriminals work day and night to hack into anything on the web that will lead them to money. Most likely, they aren’t targeting you directly but are instead using brute force to try and hack thousands of accounts. All they need to do is get lucky once.
Attacks usually come in the form of phishing, which is when cybercriminals try to trick you into handing information or money directly to them. They usually impersonate real organisations or people, and well-done versions can fool anyone. Other attacks are often bad links that cause malicious software to download onto your computer.
But don’t worry. This isn’t meant to scare you but instead make you aware of what’s out there and the importance of implementing the right security measures.
Of course, awareness and security are important for anyone, but they’re especially crucial for people who work from home since their personal network and devices, which tend to be more vulnerable, are gateways to other more valuable sources of information, such as a company’s or clients’ networks.
If the work you do from home consists of running a small business, it’s especially important to make sure you’re protected, as small businesses are increasingly being targeted for cybercrime.
Yet have no fear. A few simple cybersecurity tricks will put up a formidable wall of defense between you and your sensitive information and any cybercriminal looking to take it from you.
Your home WiFi network is one of the most significant entrance points to your home office fortress. If it’s not secure, a lot of the other measures you can take will be significantly less effective.
Luckily, it’s easy to make your WiFi more difficult to hack.
Start by making sure the network is password protected. Most networks come set up this way, but you’ll want to go one step further by changing the name of your network and setting up your own password.
This is because internet service providers often batch assign network names and passwords, and this means a hacker can guess things similar to what they’ve already been able to hack and get into more networks.
Make sure to set up something that is unique and also hard to guess. Don’t use your address, phone number, birthday, or anything else someone could easily learn and use against you.
Setting a new name and password means this technique won’t work, making you more secure. Here’s a resource to help you reset your network’s password.
You can also establish privacy and security controls on your network that will make it harder for people using your WiFi to stumble onto suspicious sites that can put malware on your computer.
This is especially important if you have kids at home that are also using the same network as you do for work.
After you’ve taken the steps to secure your network, the next layer of security you can build is with your devices. Again, this is simple. Make sure each device is secured with a password, and make sure you use a something that’s difficult to guess. (No birthdays and no 0-0-0-0s)
This is important not only because it will physically keep the information on your device out of the wrong hands, but also because most phones, computers, and tablets require you to use a password before making any changes at the system level or before gaining access to important information you have stored on the device.
Not using a password is effectively leaving this door to your cyber identity wide open.
You’ll also want to consider getting some antivirus software. It will block you from downloading any malware from not-so-reputable websites and also will help you navigate the web more securely by providing you with things such as “safe search” results.
Another thing you’ll want to be sure to do is to keep all your software completely updated, on all your devices. Developers are constantly releasing changes that respond to potential weakness hackers will eventually try to exploit. Delaying these updates unnecessarily exposes you potentially devastating consequences.
With your WiFi and devices secure, it’s time to make sure your accounts are properly defended as well. Of course, most of the burden of security lies with the companies with whom you hold an account, but there are things you need to do as well.
Not surprisingly, your first move is to check your passwords. Make sure they are all strong, which means they include upper and lowercase letters, characters/symbols, and numbers. Good passwords are also usually at least eight characters long.
It’s also important to use a different password for each account you have. This way, in the unlikely event you get hacked, you can keep the damage inflicted to your online presence to a minimum.
If keeping track of all these different passwords for your many accounts becomes too much, you can use a password manager, such as Last Pass, to hold everything in one spot. These programs will also even provide you with automatically generated, random passwords for your accounts, which adds an extra layer of security.
When possible, another thing you can do is setup alerts on your accounts. This is an option usually for services that deal with financial information. They serve to notify you when there is activity on your account so that you can spot fraud as it’s happening, limit the damage, and speed up the recovery process.
Lastly, your home office is only as secure as the people who use it. In fact, most cyber attacks occur as a result of a human error, e.g. someone clicks on a bad link or falls for a phishing attempt.
The best thing you can do is make sure all the people connected to your home network are following all the security procedures we discussed earlier. Also, be careful who you allow to access your WiFi network. Sharing with your neighbor to save costs sounds good, but if you don’t have control over who he or she gives the password to, you could be exposing your network to unnecessary risk.
As for the people on your network, also make sure they’re educated on how to detect phishing attempts and what constitutes safe online behavior. Again, something that is of utmost importance when you’re using a network that kids also use.
Cybersecurity is a topic that is on everyone’s mind at the moment. This is because as the world continues to digitize, there are more and more avenues for hackers to steal personal information and infect personal devices.
However, because of this, the people behind the devices, apps, and software you’re using are working constantly to improve the security of their products. This, plus your efforts to protect yourself from what’s out there, will help you build a powerful defense against the many people using the web to try and steal not only your information and money but also your peace of mind.