The convenience of the digital age keeps us operating and connected. Even as the pandemic has stalled large parts of daily life, an abundance of business and communication continues to persist.
Technology provides a workplace at our fingertips. It’s instantaneous, global — and comes with its own set of drawbacks and security challenges. More and more professionals are reckoning with the reality of malware, cybercrime, information hacking, and dark web activities. In many ways, to work from home is to step into an unregulated wild west of online risk.
Yahoo, Facebook and Apple are just a few of the most fortified tech giants that have lost millions of records due to hackers breeching their system. And for the everyday employee working from home, COVID -19 has ushered in a marked uptick in malware and phishing scams related to the virus.
As they attempt to access what appears to be information and updates on the pandemic, unsuspecting users will unwittingly give permission for hackers to obtain their login credentials. Once they have one password, it’s game over for both your personal and company information.
Let’s take a look at some of the top ways to stay productive and safe while working from home.
Give yourself structure
Set up a designated workspace and give yourself a daily routine that approximates the structure of an office workday. Meet your deadlines, stay in touch with teams — and try to imagine someone looking over your shoulder every time you minimize your work window and log onto social media!
When you get dressed, take responsible breaks, and keep up a proper diet and exercise regimen, you will energise your work experience, stay on top of your projects, and cultivate success.
Invest in the right equipment
You’ll be amazed at the difference a few luxury splurges can make to your workflow. Take the plunge and buy that ergonomic padded desk chair you’ve been eyeing. When you consider the hours you’ll spend in it, the money used will pay itself back many times over.
For calls and video conferencing, consider dual desktop screens or an external monitor for your laptop with a good pair of headphones and mic. If you’re noticing a dip in the quality of the video calls themselves, think about the steps you can take to improve your bandwidth — such as turning off unnecessary internet-connected devices.
Update all of your software
Always use a company- managed workstation or a personal device with the latest operating system — namely Win 10 or macOS 10.15. You should be current on software upgrades and patches for any system used to conduct business. Install an up-to-date antivirus and automate your system scans to keep all programs in smooth working order and block any malware that tries to worm its way in.
Secure your Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is inherently insecure and exposes both your browser and hard drive to any number of attacks from lurking hackers. Turn off the auto-connect feature that allows your computer to memorise particular wireless networks, and confirm that your home router is secured with WPA2 or WPA3.
If you have any default logins to IoT devices like smart doorbells, wireless cameras, robot vacuums, or thermostats — make sure these credentials are changed. Depending on your location and circumstances, it may make sense to tether your device to your smartphone and use your mobile data instead.
Control access to your data
A correctly configured firewall is essential to protect your office network. Use a reliable firewall, along with an effective VPN on company-owned devices when outside the office and, where possible, keep data from your work devices and personal devices completely separate.
Maintain 2-factor authentication when accessing any corporate systems like Office 365, and contrary to popular practice, it’s better to come up with a strong password that you don’t change often. In case of unforeseen crashes or compromise, ensure you are still backing up your data.
Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt
The moment a foreign USB device plugs into your machine, all bets are off. Criminals have been known to swipe reams of confidential data from computers at reception desks, conference presentations, and unattended laptops simply by slipping in a seemingly innocuous flash drive.
A good rule of thumb is to encrypt any device containing company data and consider all connections to be unsafe unless they have been secured by VPN.
Make yourself a human firewall
It’s easy to get complacent while moving through the routine links, emails, and texts that are a daily part of your job. But please be alert to phishing techniques that come your way. An email from an anonymous sender posing as the CEO of your company is a common phishing technique to remain wary of.
IT departments should schedule phishing simulations — and maybe even employee security quizzes. Emptying the recycle bin and making sure you have a clean desk is a great way to end the day on the right note.
Monitor for compromised credentials
Use a professional DarkWeb monitoring service to monitor breaches as part of your GDPR requirements. The website https://haveibeenpwned.com/ is a basic resource to see if your email passwords have already been exposed on the Dark Web.
To prevent third-party access to your information, regularly audit your authorised user lists and promptly remove network access from former employees. Although it should be obvious, never use work email credentials for personal websites, and always use different passwords for different services — or a reputable password manager.
While working remotely and isolated from your colleagues, take advantage of innovative software that allows you to chat and collaborate from the comfort of your home. You can chat, work on shared files, and even schedule virtual lunches to stay connected and improve group morale.
Make your workday fun and varied
Tired of working from the same chair at the same desk? Change it up! Move to the bedroom, the kitchen table, the living room, or the garden. Add variety to your day by changing where you sit and use the alternate scenery to give you renewed momentum.
If it helps you get things done, put on some good music and don’t forget to enjoy your freedom from the commute, your comfortable house slippers, and all the ease and perks that come from working from home. Positivity and ingenuity are key!
About the author
Vin Jauhal is an experienced Managing Director, succeeding in the I.T. industry for over 20 years with Wem Technology and confidently helping businesses grow through the strategic use of innovative technology with an ability to see things from the customer’s point of view.
He has a demonstrated history of driving forward the technology industry with strong expertise in Consultancy, Security, Cloud, Telecoms, Licensing, Infrastructure and Service Management.
As an award-winning, early adopter at the forefront of innovation, Wem Technology has consistently been ahead of the curve in providing leading-edge technology solutions to help give businesses a strategic advantage, and his experience has helped many companies grow significantly - often in very short timeframes.
With an educational background in Management, Computer Science and Economics, he is noted for his creativity and innovative thinking when helping organisations to meet their objectives.
As past Chairman, President of the Kensington & Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and member of West London Business, Vin is able to actively help businesses succeed on a purely voluntary basis.
Wem Technology is now a leading Cloud, Security and Managed Service provider with a highly qualified and experienced team assisting many small and large companies, both in London and internationally, with their technology requirements.
As Microsoft Gold Certified Partners and Cloud Solution Providers, they have been designing and implementing the latest technologies and services to help businesses digitally transform for over 21 years.