Keeping your home working set-up safe and secure
Firstly, only use devices for work that have been approved by your company and can connect securely to work resources and servers. ‘And make sure they are encrypted, such as Bitlocker on a Windows laptop and disk encryption on all other Mac, IOS and Android devices,’ advises Darren James, a cyber security specialist at Specops.
Then ensure they’re running the latest updates, such as firmware, OS patches, software patches and virus protections. And finally, don’t make the mistake of sharing the device with others in the household. ‘That means no kids,’ warns James.
To avoid possible security breaches it’s advisable to establish a virtual private network (VPN), says Chris Parker, privacy, safety and security expert, and founder of WhatIsMyIPAddress.com. ‘When you’re viewing work information on a home connection, you lack the security systems that are usually in place at your office,’ he says. ‘This means unauthorised users can tap into that connection and view the same data.’ So connect to work via a VPN to protect any data while it’s in transit.
And try not to print out anything – and, if you do, shred it, says James. ‘Also avoid naming customers to friends and family outside of work,’ he adds. ‘And don’t save work data to a USB stick unless you absolutely have to, and if you do, make sure it’s an encrypted one.’ James also suggests the use of a privacy filter if you are working in a public area, and not to forget to lock your device when you go for a break.
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Which brings us to passwords. ‘As a general rule, don’t share your password with anyone – after all, you are responsible for actions carried out under your credentials,’ says James. And don’t write it down or reuse the same one. ‘It might be convenient to keep the same password for every website or app you use,’ says James, ‘but it only takes one of them to get compromised and then you are in big trouble.’
‘If you have a lot of passwords, then a password management tool is worth considering,’ says Parker. ‘Combined with an automatic password generator, this helps you keep all your accounts secure. Plus, you only need to remember one password.’
Longer is stronger when it comes to passwords. ‘Where possible, use lengthy and complex combinations of numbers, symbols and letters with a variety of upper and lower case,’ says Paul Hague, founder and CEO at BlackDice Cyber. Common mistakes to avoid are using a birthday as a password and using easy-to-remember names.
Finally, look out for fraudulent attempts to gain your private and sensitive information, otherwise known as phishing. ‘There have been a number of cases of coronavirus-related email scams reported recently that tap into anxieties around the pandemic,’ warns Parker. ‘This is compounded by the effect of the lockdown. In an idle moment, you might be curious enough to open a spam email that you would otherwise have ignored.’
This article was first published in Student Accountant