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Tech tips

9 security mistakes people make when working from home

COVID-19 got you working from home? If not, you might be soon. In cities where the virus has spread, local authorities are advising schools and businesses close temporarily to prevent further transmission.

That said, transitioning to working from home from working on-site is a complex task. Crewmember roles need to be adjusted for digital access and protocols must be in place to make sure work doesn’t slip through the cracks. Tap or click to find out how to prepare your business for coronavirus.

But on top of the digital setup, securing your work from home arrangement is just as important. If employees are accessing important work data from home, one compromised connection is enough to affect the entire company. Here are nine work from home security tips to keep in mind — whether a virus is near you or not.

1. Watch out for unusual requests

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If quarantine or work from home measures are implemented in your area, you aren’t going to be the only one who knows — hackers will too. As a result, it’s in the best interest of you and your company to be vigilant. Bad actors can and will try to take advantage of the situation.

When working from home, you might receive email requests or phone calls asking for sensitive information like company passwords or user accounts. If you get any requests like these, always make sure to verify it through another channel. Text your boss or a coworker to be 100% sure.

Speaking of your boss, something to watch out for is Voice Cloning. This AI technology can change anyone’s voice into a text-to-speech engine. In other words, it’s Deepfakes for voices. Tap or click here to see the real danger posed by Voice Cloning.

If you get a call from someone who claims to be your boss, but the audio sounds unusual or bizarre, make sure to email your boss for confirmation before handing over any sensitive information. Not only is this good company practice, but it will also alert your boss to any impersonation attempts.

2. Use a VPN to protect important information

If you and other employees are connecting to work-related data from home, that means you’re accessing it through your personal web connection. If that connection is compromised, it means you’re exposing your digital workplace to cybersecurity threats.

To protect your data, use a VPN to secure your connection. VPNs make employee logins more secure and they can prevent any unauthorized traffic from piggybacking on your employees’ connections. Tap or click here to find out why VPNs are so valuable for security.

If you’re looking for a speedy, reliable VPN, our sponsor, ExpressVPN, takes a different approach to setting it all up. All you need to do is download an app and choose a username and password to install the service.

You’ll get a fast, secure VPN system that encrypts your traffic and protects your company from cybercriminals. Get an extra 3 months free of ExpressVPN when you sign up at ExpressVPN.com/Kim.

3. Use a password manager to save all your passwords

Just like with your internet connection, any compromises to your browser can affect the security of your work. And few digital targets are of higher priority than your passwords, which are typically saved in your browser.

Instead of jotting your passwords down or saving them where a cybercriminal can easily hack into, you’ll want to use an encrypted password manager. Ideally, you’ll want a program that can automatically generate complex passwords that can’t be easily cracked.

We recommend using our sponsor Roboform, which can automatically generate strong passwords and encrypt them for storage. Tap or click here to find out more about Roboform.

4. Always, always log out!

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Staying logged in to your work accounts is enough of a security risk on its own, and this goes double for work from home situations.

Let’s say you leave your computer open and walk away from it with your important information still on the screen. If a younger sibling or child were to walk by, jump on and open some risky online games on your computer, your work information would be exposed to all kinds of online threats.

Always make sure you log out every single time. If you’re using multiple tabs, also double-check you’ve closed everything work-related before venturing elsewhere online.

5. Use encrypted file storage

If you plan on sending files to coworkers, you want to avoid using plain attachments via email. Many email services do not encrypt attachments, which makes them a high-priority target for interception.

Instead, consider sending or dropping your files into an online storage service with strong encryption. Systems like Dropbox and G Suite offer massive amounts of cloud storage for low costs, and both platforms offer encryption to protect the files you store.

G Suite is currently providing its expanded services for free during the epidemic. Tap or click here to see the upgrades you might qualify for.

Once you’re signed in to your Google account, open drive.google.com and drop in the file you want to share with your colleagues. Once inside Google Drive, it will be much safer to send and access.

6. Beware of phishing and email recklessness

There’s a reason cybercriminals like to target people via email: It’s one of the easiest ways to do it! Between malicious attachments and overly-trusting users, reckless email use is a goldmine for hackers.

And with more businesses turning to work-from-home options, expect the email attacks and phishing to only get worse. In fact, several cybercriminals are already taking advantage. Tap or click here to see a complete list of coronavirus scams to watch out for.

As always, be highly skeptical about any emails you receive. Don’t open attachments you’re not 100% sure about and avoid replying to senders you don’t recognize.

If you want to be certain about the validity of an email or file attachment, make sure to ask your manager or another colleague their thoughts. This will have the added benefit of making the rest of your crew aware of security threats.

7. A safe router is a happy router

Aside from setting up a secure VPN, it’s also important to make sure your router is safe to connect to. Some router settings make it easier for cybercriminals to intrude or snoop on your connection — and with sensitive work-related files in play, that’s bad news for your company.

You’ll want to make sure your encryption, firewall and DNS settings are up to date. To find out how to optimize the settings on your router, tap or click here to read our detailed guide.

8. Don’t overlook your phone

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If your personal smartphone isn’t protected, accessing work-related files can be dangerous. Just like with a desktop computer, a smartphone can make use of a VPN.

Our sponsor, ExpressVPN, also offers a mobile app that can protect both Android and iOS devices. Additionally, you may want to access certain work-related services using verified apps.

For example, download the Google Drive app instead of accessing Google Drive via Safari. This ensures your login and activity are encrypted. As a bonus, you’ll probably see much better performance from the software designed by the platform’s owners.

9. Blackout your screen at the office

This is a small one, but highly important if you want to avoid embarrassing, awkward or risky situations.

If you’re accessing your workstation from home, you might accidentally reveal what you’re doing to people at the office. This isn’t ideal for both practical and security reasons, so make sure to turn off your monitor before you leave the office.

Bonus: Dress for success

This might seem silly, but it’s important to still dress as if you’re going to work when you’re working from home. You never know when you’ll be summoned for a video conference, and getting dressed-up will help you keep your workplace mentality.

At the very least, just dress for work from the waist up. Your webcam will be pointed at your face, so nobody has to know you’re wearing pajama pants and bunny slippers.

Viral epidemics and natural disasters will continue to make work-from-home options attractive business practices. And by following these steps, you can reduce stress and make the most of your time away from your work desk. Who knew staying home could be so productive?

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