Most freelancers and consultants already know the best security practices in the home office, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made remote work reaching more professionals than ever before.
Those who are not used to the sport, in this sense, need to keep in mind that it is essential to adopt measures to ensure that the computer and software used at home are in fact safe.
It is worth noting, after all, that cybercriminals know that remote workers are much more vulnerable: home networks are typically less secure than the corporate environment, which explains why there has been such a high number of cyber-attacks since the beginning of the crisis.
In this worrying scenario, a successful attack on a home office worker can provide access to the company’s servers, sensitive documents and valuable corporate data, to name just a few.
In other words, taking steps to protect your home activity routine can free you and your business from a lot of headaches and a lot of financial loss.
Next, take note of 5 essential recommendations to protect your home office on these difficult days!
Home office security: 5 important measures to implement
1. Use a VPN
Whether you are connecting remotely to company services and resources or just browsing the internet and using remote communication tools, bet on a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
VPNs encrypt all online traffic to prevent hackers from accessing data that is being “moved”.
Ideally, companies should have a VPN policy. In this case, it is important that they offer technical help and instructions to employees on how to use it.
If there is no VPN implemented, count on a respected and recognized VPN service in the market.
2. Watch out for phishing attack attempts
New phishing hacker sites (an attack that steals users’ sensitive information, including bank details and passwords) appear every day to try to trick users with information about COVID-19 and other disguises.
The good news is that this type of website can often be blocked in the browser with URL filters. Not always, but often!
Completely avoiding these malicious websites is the safest way. Typically, links infected with phishing come through instant messages, e-mails, and forum posts on the internet, among others.
So do not click on any link that you don’t really need to click on (or that comes from unknown, suspicious or unexpected sources). The rule is to always avoid clicking on links that you don’t expect to receive.
Also be aware: if you are looking for information about COVID-19 and other hot topics, always access official and recognized sources – do not click on emails or emails from strange sources.
3. Make sure you have good anti-malware running
Having a good anti-malware solution is practically a “must” these days – and it wouldn’t be any different when it comes to home office security.
Recapitulate that the term “malware” describes any cyber-attack or threat, including different types of viruses, phishing and ransomware.
In the case of Windows, which is the target of most attacks, Windows Defender (which is already “embedded”) does a good job of stopping threats.
Just owning the program, however, is not enough. See tips:
- Scan your computer at least once a day;
- Always make the updates requested by the program (at the frequency indicated);
- Allow scans to be performed whenever new software is installed.
Also, don’t ignore messages and notifications from your anti-malware solution. If you are using a paid service, keep an eye on the license does not expire.
4. Keep your operating system and apps up to date
Speaking of not ignoring notifications from your software providers, it is worth mentioning that keeping your computer’s operating system up to date is crucial, given that many attacks are successful due to vulnerabilities that have not been updated / fixed.
It is worth noting that, often, the software warns us about updates that are actually so-called patches, that is, “fixes” that aim to remedy bugs and errors identified in the system.
To give you an idea, the only reason the Winery ransomware attack, which occurred a few years ago, caused so much damage and was so serious, is that its victims had not installed the Windows update / patch that had been offered years before.
If you don’t use any patch management software, keeping up with all available updates can be difficult. This way, to maintain security in the home office, ensure that at least your operating system (Windows or Linux, for example) is updated every time you are notified, as soon as possible.
Also make sure that automatic updates from popular vendors like Adobe are turned on, as well as apps like PDF Reader.
5. Protect your passwords
Maintaining good password-related practices is an almost cliché protection tip, but it is an even more important measure when it comes to home office security. Make sure your passwords are strong and known only to you.
It is worth remembering that a password considered to be strong is one with 20 characters, since the traditional 8-character passwords are now easily circumvented by “brute force” hacker attacks.
In this sense, here’s the tip: creating a set of long sentences that you can easily remember is more efficient than a random combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
Never share your passwords with anyone, and have a password for each service you use. Here, to make life easier, password management tools are a great choice (and much more secure than writing down passwords on a pad of paper or post-it …).
Extra tips for home office security
Activate your operating system’s firewall
Having a firewall that protects your home network by controlling all incoming and outgoing traffic is the first line of defense against all threats from the internet and what is my vpn.
If you do not have a firewall device, activate the firewall software that is built into your operating system, ensuring adequate protection.
Strengthen the security of your router
In the company, your computer’s network is protected. At home, however, each of us must play the role of our own administrator.
Check the security of your router carefully, strengthening the settings and enlisting the help of company technicians, if necessary.
Now, the router is not only the gateway to your personal data, but also to the valuable company data that you access remotely.