Whether you’ve recently started working from home due to the coronavirus lockdowns, or have had your own home office for a while, it’s vital to protect all your sensitive, important information from prying eyes.
Hackers were already a big issue before the pandemic struck. Yet, now, with so many people working out of their own properties and the potential for lax security measures, they’re even more on the prowl than usual. Here’s what you can do to secure your home office against cybercriminals today.
Use Protective Products
First, install protective tech products onto your computers to help stop hackers from breaking in. Purchase quality antivirus protection that provides maximum security against a myriad of threats, including spam, spyware, viruses, ransomware, malware, etc. You can find affordable software online that covers either a single device or multiple ones, depending on your needs.
Plus, check your computers to see if they have firewalls pre-installed on them. Most laptops and desktops come with these tools when you purchase them. You may need to change the settings, though. Sometimes the firewalls are there but not activated. Check this ASAP, as a firewall is a helpful secondary line of defense against cybercriminals. It particularly wards off those trying to break into your networks via your internet connection.
Password Protect Systems
Another way to secure your home office is to password protect all systems. Take this step for computer-based software and firmware, plus your Wi-Fi router, your multifunction printer/scanner/copier, your tablet and smartphone, and all the accounts you log into online. Putting strong codes in place provides another barrier that hackers have to workaround.
Set up passwords eight characters or more in length. Create them from a mixture of numbers, symbols, and upper- and lower-case letters. Your codes shouldn’t relate to details about you or your loved ones that cybercriminals might find online, such as your birthday, child or pet names, email address, etc. Also, try to have different passwords for different things, so that if one gets discovered by a hacker, that can’t use it to break into everything.
Regularly Update Software
Updates are crucial, too. Many people ignore the pop-ups that show up on computers every so often referencing updates, but this is a mistake. Developers release new versions of their programs when they discover gaps in security that hackers could use to break in. As such, if you’re not running the latest editions, you leave yourself more vulnerable to attacks.
Set up updates to run automatically. This way, you don’t have to remember or take the time to install them manually. Over a year, you’ll likely receive notifications about new versions of firmware, operating systems, browsers, plug-ins, apps, and more.
Get Other Household Members to Steer Clear
You might do all the right things when it comes to securing your work data, yet if other members of your household use the same devices, especially your computer(s), you could be at more risk of a hacker attack than you think. If other people, particularly children, change settings, remove passwords, open spammy emails or click on virus-laden links when using devices, this could make a cyber break-in more likely.
Prevent this situation by, where possible, limiting users. If you can, have it so that only you use all the gadgets related to your home office and work situation. If separation of this type isn’t achievable, at least train your family members or other housemates on digital safety dos and don’ts.
Back-Up Data Daily
Unfortunately, no matter how vigilant you are about security, a cybercriminal might still find a way to get into your systems and information. Hackers continually come up with new, creative ways to do their “job,” which leaves consumers facing break-ins more often than they’d like.
To ensure consequences aren’t quite as dire if you do get hacked, back up your work data daily. Send copies of all files to external hard drives (keep these disconnected from your computer apart from when backups take place) or to cloud storage systems.
Backing up is helpful because if you do get hacked, you won’t lose all your information or have to deal with lost time trying to recover files. You also won’t have to pay a hacker if they use ransomware to lock you out and/or steal all your work and demand payment for the return of access or data.
Having a home office is great in many ways and particularly helpful, as we’ve seen, when mass health issues arise and it’s inadvisable to go to a company workspace. However, you do need to take security seriously when you get set up at home. The tips listed above should help you to do just that.