6 tips for staying cyber secure while remote working 

This post was written by Sam, one of our Cyber Security Consultants

Photo cred – Nigel

As many of us have recently found out, working from home is vastly different from working in your normal office or workspace. Many technologies aim to virtualise the office environment, allowing teams to communicate, coordinate and interact on projects. But working from a more relaxed environment – like your home – can result in insecure working practices. Below are 6 key areas to keep in mind: 

1) Host based firewall 

Now you are working from home, you may no longer have access to the usual office infrastructure, like a firewall, which is placed at the perimeter of the office’s environment to filter internet trafficBoth Windows and Mac machines come with built in host firewalls, and these should be enabled before accessing the internet from outside of the office environment. 

2) Up to date anti-virus 

Malware and virus protection are of great importance as they protect a user from threats that come in via the internet, email or file transfer. New threats from malware are discovered every day, and protection rules are pushed out to anti-virus software at the same rate. This means if you want it to work to the best of its ability, you must allow it to update and scan all files.  

3) Passwords 

When accessing company information from home, whether it is through VPN or an online file share, it should be protected with a password. The aim of a password is to be complex enough to make it hard to guess but also memorable for the user to access the resource needed. If you want to know how to create a secure password, check out the article we wrote here 

4) Clear desk and screen 

If you are familiar with working in an office environment, you may be used to complying with a clear desk and screen policy, where no paperwork or company information is left out in the open when you are not at your desk. These same rules apply when working at home: 

  • Lock computers when not working on them 
  • Secure any paperwork at the end of each day 
  • Check what can been seen through  windows

5) Change default Wi-Fi passwords 

Generally, when you work from home, you’ll still require access to the internet, and might rely on your home internet connection to do so. But this is a connection the organisation does not have control over and thus it may not be configured securely. The basic steps for securing the router and your connection are: 

  • Change the default password to access Wi-Fi 
  • Change the router’s name (what people see when looking for Wi-Fi connections) 
  • Change the password to the administrative account used to manage the device 

More detailed steps can be found here

6) Separate personal and business 

This final point is for those who find themselves working from home and not being provided with company hardware, like a laptop. You may be expected to work on your own personal device, so below are a few things to consider if this is the case: 

  • Set up a new user account on the device, with no admin privileges 
  • A personal device like a windows laptop is usually set up with a single admin account, which is used to perform functions like installing software and configuration changes. If this account is breached and a hacker gains access, this means there is a greater potential impact, because the attacker has top-level permissions allowing them to, for instance, install malicious software. 
  • Do not use personal online accounts like email 
  • Separate out personal and business accounts to reduce the chance of contamination. If you do not already have an accessible corporate email account, have one set up or use a temporary account, separate from any personal emails. This also reduces the impact if such an account were to be compromised. 
  • Ensure software is up to date 
  • Operating systems and software developers provide regular updates to fix vulnerabilities within there products. Ensure these updates are installed in a timely manner to reduce the vulnerabilities on working devices. 

Working from your dining table may not be ideal, but by taking these points into consideration, you will be vastly increasing your security posture and it should give you the piece of mind that things maybe aren’t that different from working in the office. 

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