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Protecting Your WFH Environment: Keeping Yourself Safe

Ever consider that you are not adequately protected in your work from home environment? An article from Vox highlights some measures you can take to ensure your work from home (WFH) environment is safe. Most of us had to make the necessary leap to the home office quickly, and some found that their equipment at home did not adequately meet the security requirements to protect them while working on confidential work content. While in most cases employees were equipped with company laptops and VPN access, other organizations were left scrambling and relied on their employees to use their personal devices to keep getting their job done. Add all this to a marked increase in cyber activities like hacking, phishing attacks, and other targeted attacks, and you have a dilemma in the making.

How exactly do employees in the WFH environment protect themselves? Extracting from the suggestions made in the Vox article and adding to that, here are some best practices to secure yourself and your confidential information while working in an environment which may be less secure:

1. Use Strong Passwords. Make it a practice to use strong passwords and different passwords for each account. Use two-factor authentication if it is offered. DO NOT continue using any default passwords that came with your equipment.

2.  Keep in the Know. Stay current on software updates as these often provide security patches for any new vulnerabilities. If you can set up automatic updates, go ahead and do so.

3.  Be Cautious of Freeware. When it comes to handling sensitive and confidential information, freeware may not be the best option. Considering that some free teleconference services often come with little or no security – they may not be ideal tools to use.

4.  Keep Work and Personal Life Separate. As much as possible, you should separate your work and personal life.  Avoid using your work devices for personal use, as you risk opening your work devices to security threats based on the sites that you visit.

5.  Add Extra Security. It is good practice to add security software like an antivirus program or use some secure browser extensions like adblockers. While your office network may have afforded you a wide variety of expensive security services such as web and URL Filters, Firewalls, Anti-malware, sandboxes, network traffic analyzers, and NGFW, your home networks may only have a basic firewall in place.

6.  Be Vigilant. Be on the lookout for phishing attacks and be cautious when it comes to emails and text messages – this is a gateway for those seeking to lure you into clicking on links that lead to malware. There has been an exponential increase in the number of phishing attacks during this pandemic. It would help if you were particularly cautious with your unprotected mobile devices, where you can easily, and sometimes unknowingly, click on malicious texts and emails.

7.  They May Be Listening. Do you know that IoT devices such as baby monitors, security cameras, personal assistant devices (i.e. Google Home, Amazon Alexa, etc.) may be listening in and may accidentally pick up confidential information? Yes, there are few stories out there. Consider turning off microphones and covering cameras while you are doing work.

8.  Utilize a VPN. Whenever possible, use a VPN to connect to work servers; so while in public and on an unsecured network, you can have a private connection. Note, however, that as VPN usage has increased during the pandemic, so too have attacks on VPNs. Although VPNs offer a measure of security, they are not foolproof, so it is essential to use a reputable VPN provider. You can also add another layer of protection with the Wedge Absolute Real-time Protection (WedgeARP) Secure Home Office (SHO) solution to detect and block known and unknown malware in real-time, thereby preventing a breach of your devices.

While this recommended list is not exhaustive, it is a good start to securing your home office environment. Adding these suggestions will help to layer your level of security and increase the overall effectiveness of your security. Security experts always recommend stacking or layering protection so that there are redundancies within the system. Having several safeguards in place makes it more difficult for hackers and undesirable malware to breach your home office environment.