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Data Security When You Work from Home

July 09, 2018

​Whether you’re self-employed or just occasionally take work home, you’re part of the nearly 43% of the US workforce that works remotely. If so, have you taken any steps to ensure the security of your “mobile office”?

​If you run your own business from home, you probably don’t have an IT department to manage computer security for you, so you have to do it yourself. And even if you’re just logging in to your employer’s network, you need to worry about security at your end of the Internet to avoid putting your computer and your company’s systems at risk.

Here are four ways you can make your home office or remote connection more secure:

  1. Lock it up: The first step to good security is simple—set up a secure password or PIN for your computer. If your device allows, use biometric security such as fingerprint recognition. “Lock it up” also applies to physical security. When you’re not using your device, keep it safely secured out of sight at home and in your possession at all times when you’re traveling.
  2. Secure your Wi-Fi: Roughly one-third of remote workers admit to using an unsecured wireless network, and a larger number have set up only limited security in their own homes. If you have to work from a Wi-Fi hotspot or public network, turn off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity when not in use. Secure your home network with a strong password. If your wireless router supports it, set up alerts for new devices that connect to your network.
  3. Secure with the cloud: Using cloud-based applications such as Office 365 or Amazon Web Services can help keep data secure. Big cloud-service providers have tight security on their systems and encrypt your data, giving you an added level of protection on both public and private networks.
  4. Connect via VPN: Many big companies use virtual private networks (VPNs) for remote access, and self-employed people are adopting them for the same reasons. What is a VPN? A VPN provides an added level of security as a secure private network running on top of the public Internet. Communication across a VPN is encrypted and safe from eavesdropping.

​Finally, try to draw a line between digital work and play. When companies provide laptops and smart phones, many workers find the line between personal and business use gets blurred. Whether it’s the occasional recipe lookup or clicking on a YouTube link from a friend, you can assume two things: Every personal click you make opens up your system to the risk of intrusion, and if your company has an IT department, you can rest assured that no message, click, or tweet you make on a work system is private. For your own privacy and your company’s welfare, it’s best to keep personal computing to your personal computers.

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