For the better part of the last two decades, the promise of the digital workplace has been slowly materializing as employees and employers have embraced the work from home culture. While the paperless office and promise of an all-digital workplace may not have materialized as much as we would have liked in the past, the COVID-19 virus is now forcing a rapid maturity of these concepts for many organizations. For many, this new work from home world will be short-lived, and most will eventually return to their typical office environment. But as with all events like this, the genie can’t be fully put back into the lamp, and working remotely will be the new normal for many of us.
Before COVID-19, the world of information security always seemed to present a new target for companies to achieve on an almost daily basis. Protecting from existing vulnerabilities while continually watching for new vulnerabilities is a never-ending job that is typically tackled by a centralized IT support team with most of the employee base presiding within the company IT perimeter.
With this rapid expansion from remote employees, information security basics are now more critical than ever. Employees that are currently working remotely are required to play an even more crucial role in the security of systems and data that they typically have not been as essential to in a corporate environment. As a member of the new work from home workforce, here are some basic tips to help you and your company stay safe from threats that once targeted your corporate network but may now be targeting your home office to get into your company’s computer systems.
- Make sure the default password on your home internet router has been changed and that your home Wi-Fi password is complex and contains upper/lower case, numbers, and special characters.
- Also, update the firmware on your home router to the latest version to solve known security issues.
- Remember that your work computer is for work only. It can be tempting to use your company-issued device for leisure while at home, but you need to make sure that it is only used for work purposes.
- Connection to your office network should always be encrypted with a VPN connection or other corporate remote access program, such as Citrix or Microsoft Remote Desktop Services.
- As with any event, whether it is COVID-19, a severe weather event, or any other disruptive situation, phishing and spam email messages are going to appear trying to take advantage of the issue.
- Be extra diligent regarding clicking links in or responding to suspicious email messages.
- Never share USB storage devices between work and home and only use corporate-approved and provided USB storage devices.
- Use headsets when talking to customers or coworkers. Spoken information can be just as confidential as printed or digital information.
- Keep your computer locked when not using it. Work information should always be treated as confidential in the same way it is at the corporate office. Leaving your computer unlocked can be tempting for family and friends.
- Always ensure that your corporate anti-virus software is up to date and that all the most recent operating system updates have been installed.
- Never write down or keep your work passwords somewhere that friends or family can get to them.
- Always keep paper information in a folder or some other area that designates the information as private company property.
- Take time to review your corporate information security policies and remember that those policies apply to your workplace, whether it is at home or in a corporate office.
As always, if you suspect any suspicious activity, contact your corporate IT department immediately and have them investigate. Remember, your corporate IT department may also be living in a brave new world of supporting many remote users. Doing your part to secure your home environment can go a long way to keep everyone working smoothly and keeping your company’s information assets safe and secure. You never know, if everything goes well, you may be able to become a permanent remote worker.