Having the opportunity to work from home is a dream of many. When you’re finally able to work remotely, a home office becomes a necessity. It’s likely you’ve already given some thought to what you’re going to include in your office, or maybe you even have one set up already.
A solid internet connection, one without frequent interruptions, is sure to be on the top of your list if you don’t already have it, and who can go without a comfortable office chair? After you’ve settled into your home office, it’s time to give some thought to security.
When you’re working from home, security will be entirely up to you in most cases. Even if your office appears to be secure enough to start working, there may be some safety precautions you forgot to implement—or some you could put to use but never even knew existed. So is your home office as secure as you think it is?
To answer your question, here are a few security tips and tools you shouldn’t go without.
Internet Security Software
While working at home, it’s likely you’re on the internet a large portion of the day. One of the most common mistakes internet users tend to make is forgetting to use security software to protect themselves. What’s worse is that when you fail to use it while working remotely, you’re not only putting your personal information at risk but also that of your clients.
Any and all files you have stored on your computer or even your mobile devices could become compromised. Clicking on a hyperlink, inadvertently sharing your login details or using an unsecured internet connection is all it takes. If you haven’t already installed an anti-virus program on all of your internet-enabled devices, starting with one is a good way to begin safeguarding your home office.
An anti-virus does the following:
- Scans for malware and exploits
- Provides a firewall option on select devices
- Can help prevent the theft of mobile devices
- Often allows you to remove malware once detected
Best of all, many anti-virus programs are free to use. The only time you’ll ever have to pay for them is if you decide you’d like additional features. To find a reputable anti-virus for free, visit Avast or Panda.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
There’s additional software that can help you protect your data, namely a Virtual Private Network (VPN). An anti-virus program can prevent malware and assist you in removing potential threats detected on your device, but what it can’t do, a VPN service can.
A VPN will encrypt your internet connection so you’ll be able to protect your devices. It does this by routing your online traffic through a secure remote server. When you connect to the remote server (which can be located just about anywhere; many VPN services have over 80 different servers), not only is your connection encrypted and more secure, but your IP address is also hidden because the remote server’s IP address is displayed instead. This will allow you to unblock geo-restricted content on the net and also maintain your privacy by not sharing your actual location.
Unfortunately, a good VPN service isn’t free, though, luckily, it is affordable. Many VPNs cost less than $14 per month, and some services offer a money-back guarantee. When choosing a service, be sure they do not keep logs of your online activities or limit bandwidth. Read this VPN review by Secure Thoughts for an in-depth comparison of some of the top services.
Password protecting your computer can be helpful for a home office, especially if you have a family or visitors. Without the password to access your computer, there’s no chance for a friend or family member to delete any of your files, log in to your accounts or access client information.
On the topic of passwords, are yours strong? If you’re unsure of what constitutes a strong password, it’s a password that includes the following:
- Uppercase letters
- Lowercase letters
- Symbols (if possible)
A strong password will also exclude:
- Words from the dictionary
- Any other personal or easily identifiable information
Passwords should never be reused and should be unique to each of your accounts. If you have trouble remembering them, using a password service such as LastPass can help, as you can store all of your passwords in an encrypted vault while only using one master password to access them. It’s important to realize there are never any safety guarantees, though LastPass is generally recognized as secure.
Always Log Out
Since the computer in your home office is likely to contain a lot of important data, don’t forget to log out of your accounts when you’re done using them. Your computer may automatically log out of your user profile after a certain period of inactivity if you have it password protected, but be sure to check your settings regardless.
Your accounts for your software should always be logged out, as well as any accounts you may have logged into on your web browser. This will ensure anyone who accesses your computer won’t be able to log into your accounts. It’s also important to avoid saving any passwords on your web browser because it’s easy for anyone experienced with computers to find them when they’re saved, even if you’re logged out.
Security in Your Home Office
The tips above are just a few ways you can keep your home office secure, so no need to stop there! Since cybersecurity threats aren’t going anywhere soon, staying up-to-date on ways to stay protected is always wise.
Your personal information in the hands of hackers can lead to a lot of unfortunate circumstances, identity theft being one of the worst. When you’re handling your clients’ data, safety measures are essential. By protecting their information—and your own—you’ll be maintaining a good reputation for future clients and keeping your home office much more secure overall.
About the Author: Cassie is a writer who works remotely from her home office. Finding it necessary to educate herself on internet security tips while working from home, she has become an internet security expert who enjoys sharing her knowledge with others.