Working Cybersafely At Home
By: Jim Stickley and Tina Davis
March 19, 2020
Being at home is comfortable. Working from home is comfortable too. We put on lounge pants, grab our coffee, and casually walk to the sofa or the kitchen table to work. As part of this process, we often get a little lax…or even lazy…about our cyber safety at home. Now that pretty much everyone in the world is in home quarantine (or partial home quarantine) and those who can are more likely working from home, it’s a great time to review tips to keeping your personal devices and your organization’s network safe from cyber threats. So, let’s so review a few tips and perhaps toss in a few more you may not have thought of yet.
- Make sure your computer’s firewall is active and fully functioning. Most of the time, these are turned on by default. However, sometimes we have reason to modify their settings. Be sure yours has the strongest settings possible. If you are not sure what that is or how to check, contact your manager or IT support to get assistance.
- If you haven’t done it yet (but we sure hope you have), make sure you have antivirus software installed on all devices and that it is always kept up-to-date. Usually you can set it to automatically download the latest updates, which is recommended. If you cannot do that for some reason, make sure you set a reminder to do it daily.
- Update your routers and wireless access points. Often, we forget about these. Sometimes they don’t update automatically either. You may have to log into an administrator panel to do it. If you are unsure how to do this, contact the manufacturer of the device. Often you can find the information you need at the company’s website under their support section.
- Recheck that all of your devices have unique and strong passwords. If any of them are duplicates of another or any of your passwords, change one of them. Make sure your routers and wireless access points have at least 12 characters. All passwords should be difficult to guess, have a combination of upper and lowercase letters, at least one number, and at least one special character such as an exclamation point or asterisk. You can use the top row of the number keys on your keyboard to choose those.
- If you’re logging into your workplace network, be sure you are using a VPN connection. This ensures the information you are passing through is encrypted and hidden from prying eyes. If you are using a browser to log in, be sure you double check the characters in the address so that you don’t make a typo and become a victim of typosquatting or domain jacking. Use previously bookmarked links when possible, as long as you know they are safe.
Remember, if you are unsure of how to check for any of this, contact your organization’s IT department or your manager for additional assistance. We all need to be sure we can maintain this for the short term, and if we follow a few cybersafe steps, we’ll be better off in the long term too.