Remote Work Security 101

remote working security 101

There have been lots of processes IT has implemented to enable flexibility in the workplace. Remote Desktop Solutions (RDS) has become very popular over the last few years. Whilst this has made life easier, we have also seen a significant rise in cyber attacks.  Therefore, here’s a remote work security 101 checklist, to help make your home working environment secure, convenient and stress-free.

1. Install Updates

If you are working from home and using a computer you already own, but don’t typically use for office work, it’s important to check that all updates and patches to Microsoft, Adobe and other critical software applications have been installed.  We know, updates take time and it’s all too convenient to click “Remind Me Later”. However,, many vulnerabilities exist in out-of-date software and are the perfect entry point for a hacker. You must protect the data that you are entrusted to access.  Keep it safe by ensuring your software is up to date.

2. Update Antivirus and anti-malware tools

Ensure you don’t postpone updates which will ultimately leave you at risk.  If you are using a home computer for work and do not have a “paid for” antivirus and anti-malware solution, ask your IT provider for help installing a licensed, approved corporate security software to use while working remotely.

3. Uninstall unnecessary software from your personal computer

Software that isn’t being used usually isn’t being updated or patched.  Those patches prevent hackers from entering through known vulnerabilities. By removing unwanted or unused programs, you have reduced that risk.

4. Use the Virtual Private Network (VPN) at all times

We understand that it’s just one more thing that you need to do before you can work. Think of it as your seat belt when you get in the car to drive. That extra moment that saved your office network from an attack.

5. Turn Off Automatic Connections On Your Wi-Fi.

One easy way for hackers to gain access to your computer is Wi-Fi spoofing. Eg: Let’s say you routinely connect to “Joe’s Wi-Fi”, so much that to save time, you click the button that says, “Connect Automatically”. A hacker can set up a portal called “Joe’s Wi-Fi”, and your computer may unwittingly connect automatically to that portal because it has been identified as a safe network.

6. Separate Your Network.

When possible, connect your computer to a different network than the rest of your remote location. It may be as simple as using the company VPN to create a secure connection.  If you are more technically capable, then separate your company computer from the rest of the computers in your remote work location via a different router or firewall.  If your mobile plan allows for unlimited data, consider using the hot spot on your phone instead of a guets network or your home network.

7. Lock Your Computer

When you aren’t using your computer, just like at the office, lock the computer to keep family, friends and maybe even the kids next door from accessing your company data.  And, while you are thinking about computer use, please remember that your company computer is for business use only.  While it might be convenient to check the news or order takeout, please limit personal use and do not allow friends and family to use your work computer.  The simple control to lock on the keyboard, press the Windows Key+L or On the keyboard, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and then select Lock this computer. Note: To unlock the computer, press, Ctrl+Alt+Delete, enter your password and press the Enter button on your keyboard.

8. Use Browsers with Up-To-Date Security

Many browsers contain vulnerabilities that can open you up to a variety of cyber attacks, leaving your company exposes.  Both Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome have the most up-to-date security.

9. Think twice.

Always be vigilant with emails by taking a moment to review where it came from.  Check the email address to ensure it is from the person it came from.  Also question if this person would send an email like this. Cyber criminals are always looking to take advantage of you when you least expect it.  Receiving an email that looks like it came from your boss or CEO with a subject that reads “company coronavirus update” may seem normal, but it may not actually be from your company.  If the email looks suspicious, report it to your IT Department/Services Provider immediately to check authenticity.

10. Don’t be click happy.

Just because there is a link or an attachment does not mean you need to click. Mouse over the link and see where it wants to take you.  Check for the actual spelling of the domain in the area before the .com, .net, .edu, .gov or .org looking for anything unusual like the characters “1”, “I” or | being leveraged as an impostor domain. Another example would be the letters “rn” instead of “m” or “vv” instead of “w”.

Overall, we hope the remote security checklist 101 will provide guidance so you can mitigate the risk of a cyber attack occurring within your home office.  Should a cyber attack occur, contact your IT department or IT Services Provider immediately. If you require assistance optimising your home office or would like to discuss how you can protect your data, call the experts at Techstream Solutions today.

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