5 things to remember about staying secure online when working remotely
Peace and quiet, flexible work hours, 24/7 connectivity – what’s not to like about remote work? The digital age has allowed us to build a digital mecca for skilled professionals to retire to, a chance to replace their cubicles for cozy cafes and coworking spaces around the globe.
But remote work hides a few challenges as well, among its many benefits.
Cybersecurity may be the biggest one thus far, with potential risks such as hacks, breaches, and leaks scaring both remote employees and their in-house teams. In great part, these safety risks stem from unreliable collaboration tools, unprotected hardware, and lack of awareness.
There are ways to keep yourself (and others) safe while working remotely though.
The following five are considered essential security measures against cybercriminals.
1. Keep Your Devices Protected (Online & Offline)
Corporate employees who are working remotely are usually required to use computers that have been checked and approved by their companies’ IT teams, and for a good reason. A piece of stolen or compromised data can put the entire organization in jeopardy.
If you absolutely must use your private computer for work, you need to follow the same security protocols that IT specialists are using in-house. These include having preventative software and strong passwords, as well as staying one step ahead of the criminals.
Here’s a checklist for you to follow:
- Create unique passwords, change them frequently, and use two-factor authentication.
- Install necessary software such as antivirus and firewalls, and use web filtering.
- Always have the latest version of the software – don’t forget to update regularly.
And one more piece of advice:
Avoid using any public devices and USB drives when collaborating on important projects, accessing sensitive data, or sharing critical information via email. Not only can public computers be easily hacked, but they might already be full of spyware without you realizing that.
2. Be Cautious About Using Public WiFi Networks
The same rule applies to public WiFi networks – since they are open to everyone, you can never know whether or not somebody has taken over control. If you enjoy working from your favorite cafe, park, or even co-working space, using a cellular network is much safer.
3. Use a VPN When Dealing with Sensitive Data
Alternatively, consider using a virtual private network. It will allow you to stay in control of your device wherever you are. Although it relies on complex technology, it has a pretty straightforward purpose. A VPN encrypts your IP and allows you to browse under a virtual address that cannot be traced back to you.
This means that, by connecting to a VPN, you’re making your online activities invisible to everyone else, including your ISP. You should always use a virtual private network while working from a public space, but you can also use it back home, as the ultimate layer of protection.
4. Browse the Web Responsibly Wherever You Are
Most dos and don’ts of browsing the internet fall down to common sense. If you’ve been working remotely for some time, you must have learned by now how to discern trustworthy sources from fishy ones, as well as how to recognize fraudulent emails and bogus websites.
Remember these tips in case you’re not sure:
- Be wary of clicking links in email or instant messages.
- Never download anything from websites without a green padlock on the address bar.
- Disable autofill options and fill your login credentials manually.
- Avoid file-sharing sites and torrenting.
When used in combination with strong passwords, preventative software, and the best VPN, these rules for safe browsing should be enough to keep both you and your co-workers protected from identity theft, credit card frauds, phishing emails, and more.
5. Invest in an Encrypted Cloud Storage Solution
Whether you’re working remotely as a company employee or a freelancer, you must be familiar with cloud-based collaborative platforms and knowledge bases. Almost all remote teams use them for their day-to-day operations, but only a handful of teams manage them properly.
Fortunately, the cloud is one of the safest places on the internet.
Most cloud-based business tools are provided by professionals who know how to fend off malicious attacks, but it may be a good idea for your entire team to invest in encrypted systems that add some extra security. If you’re part of a remote team, talk to your colleagues about it.
Both remote workers and companies that hire them must rely on open communication and universal security rules to cover any possible vulnerability in the corporate information hub. It’s only as strong as its weakest link, so do your part by staying safe and spreading awareness.