Work-at-home jobs have become increasingly popular in recent years, but Covid-19 has redefined the workforce entirely.
Studies, such as the Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey, suggest that approximately 56 percent of the American workforce currently have positions compatible with remote work as well as the UK is almost in full lockdown, and Brits are asked to work from home as well. By the end of 2021, experts believe, as much as 25 to 30 percent of the workforce will be remote.
Cybersecurity at the Home Level
If you currently work from home, or if you might start working shortly, it’s important to understand the foundation of today’s digital security risks. Regardless of industry, your personal devices contain valuable personal information. Even if your technology is up to date, your devices can still encounter virtual threats. Fortunately, and in most cases, the best way to avoid these threats is to know more about them.
It’s also important to equip your digital device with the right cybersecurity tools. Plenty of these exist, but remote workers in the UK might find some to provide more benefits than others. Among the many available tools, few come close to the effectiveness of a VPN.
The Core of Digital Defense: A VPN
Much like remote work positions, VPNs have grown in popularity in recent years. Virtual private networks are fantastic for securing a private Internet experience—one free of data-tracking ads, users, and malicious programs. But how does a VPN work, exactly?
A VPN is a program which gives a user access to a virtual ‘tunnel’ when browsing online. VPNs, themselves, are normally run as software. The program grants the user access to the VPN service provider’s servers—and each is designed to guide the user’s digital footsteps to each destination they head for. This feature is included in a majority of VPNs. So, whether you pick the best VPN for the UK or simply subscribe to a verified VPN provider, your browsing sessions will get a major security boost.
IP Address Redirection
VPNs do this by redirecting the user’s IP address into the selected server—then using the server’s IP address when visiting websites on the user’s end. As a result, the user’s location, personal information, and any other identifying digital features are completely hidden. This offers a number of privacy and security benefits, and each can make your remote work much safer to engage.
Creating a Cybersecurity Plan
A VPN is a fantastic foundation for any remote work station. This said, you could make your cybersecurity approach an ironclad one by adopting some additional strategies. Let’s check out a few of the best:
The first strategy naturally ‘clicks’ with using a VPN—as it’s often included as a feature.
Encrypting your information adds an incredibly powerful digital security level to your devices, making your data, and therefore personal information, impossible to decipher. Encryption essentially ‘scrambles’ this information into an utterly unintelligible form. Understandably, this makes your data useless to anyone attempting to steal it—making it an invaluable tactic to use.
You’re in luck, too: Today’s leading VPNs already include encryption services. As your IP address is rerouted, your VPN server applies end-to-end encryption to protect any sensitive information. When combined with the security level a VPN already provides, encryption is often considered a necessity among remote workers.
Use Remote Desktop Tools Carefully
Many people working from home utilize virtual desktops to communicate with employees, clients, and technical support teams. While today’s virtual desktops are continuously enhanced with cybersecurity elements, they can still be risky to operate.
The remote desktop protocols on most devices tend to have minor security flaws—but even the smallest of flaws can become major opportunities for data thieves. As such, it’s a good idea to adopt an RDP toolkit to keep your virtual desktop experiences safe. These toolkits streamline the telecommunications process with cloud-based storage options, enhanced permissions settings, and more.
In any event, the best way to safeguard your virtual desktop sessions is to practice proper access approaches. Learning your virtual desktop service’s console commands, configurations, and access variations is a great start—as each will greatly expand your knowledge of the platform in general.
Update Your Digital Defense Tools
Technology changes often—and so do the malicious tools used to steal a user’s information. One of the best ways to stay digitally safe, in the long run, is to keep your security software up to date.
Verify your antivirus software often, and keep it updated with the most recently available malware signatures. It’s a good idea to secure your networking hub with a firewall, too, to prevent potentially dangerous connections. Install security software patches as soon as they become available, and keep your core operating system in shape with automatic updates.
Secure Your Wi-Fi
We often consider our home network to be an ironclad digital space, but Wi-Fi networks have a surprising number of security flaws. To reduce these flaws and keep your network as safe as possible, take some extra time to tweak its maximum defense settings.
First, consider changing the network’s default SSID if you currently use it. Similarly, replace any default passwords with your own. As with your antivirus software, be sure to update your Wi-Fi network regularly through its router. In this scenario, you’ll be updating your device’s firmware instead of the regular programs you use. In doing so, you’ll protect any access points potential thieves might try to breach. You’ll also optimize your router—boosting your connection speeds as well.
Use Authorized Access Controls
Authorized access parameters are commonly used in organizations, but they’re just as important in remote workspaces. Authorized access begins with strong, complex passwords—those with both uppercase and lowercase letters and which use several numbers and symbols.
Then, enhance your access authorization protection by using two-step verification whenever it’s available. Most online-accessible applications offer two-factor support—as do most devices, in general. Two-factor authentication requires a password and an additional identifier. While the second ‘factor of identification’ can be another password, it’s often better to use a factor that can’t be virtually manipulated. Things like facial recognition and fingerprint scans are incredibly effective—and both are common features included in modern computing device architectures.
Introducing the second factor of identification can boost your system’s defense exponentially—especially if you use one of these non-digital identifiers. If another digital identifier is required, consider relocating your second factor to another device—preferably your smartphone. Doing so will greatly limit how a malicious user can exploit your password requirements—as attempting to do so across multiple devices would be incredibly difficult.
Configure Your Networking Settings
Once you’ve updated your router’s firmware, you’ll need to augment its digital settings to improve its overall security. To do this, you can start by making sure it’s WPA2 and WPA3 accessible. These security methods lead today’s cybersecurity standards—but they’re also a necessary substitute for outdated methods, as they’re easily exploited.
Similar to your main device, be sure to overhaul any default usernames and passwords on your router. As for updates: A good place to find them, if they aren’t readily installed through major system updates, is on the router manufacturer’s website. In most cases, these websites offer desktop apps that lead users through the update process—making it incredibly easy to do.
Secure the Hardware
Hackers might aim to exploit virtual environments, but virtual environments are only as secure as the hardware running them. Even if you work from home, your devices should always be in good shape, physically. Keep your device situated in a location with good airflow, and check it for any dust intake whenever possible. If your device encounters physical heating options, its ventilation may be encountering difficulties as well.
If you work remotely as part of an organization, using a company-provided device, double down on any physical security options available. These devices contain highly sensitive data, and they may even carry virtual identifiers hackers might be looking for: Personal network devices can hold valuable information which hackers target—but this information, in most cases, is far less valuable than the information of an established commercial entity.
Remaining Consistent: Always Update
The tips mentioned above should be considered often. If possible, create a ‘digital maintenance’ schedule to keep your devices updated with today’s updated security software. As a rule of thumb: Try to change your router’s password every few weeks—as your network’s core devices face the most risk.
If you work for a company, connect with fellow employees about additional security approaches whenever possible. Even better: Communicate with your business’s tech team, as their expert approaches to cybersecurity will protect your network even more. If your remote work frequently involves VoIP services, be extra proactive about Wi-Fi safety upkeep–as even textures can cause windows to freeze. Every computer is different, and every computer has its own security needs. Weigh out these larger tweaks an alterations whenever possible, too,
Practicing these core elements of network defense can make all the difference in the digital world. If you’re unsure about changing your device settings, create a system restore beforehand. Configuring a virtual device can seem a little intimidating initially, but it’s surprisingly easy to do. Just be sure to create a system restore points often, though. Even if your character’s surrounding network, hardware, and firmware are updated, cleaned, and double-checked for errors, mistakes do happen from time to time. The best part about regular security checkups, though, is the peace of mind they provide. Keep your workspace as safe as possible, and be proactive about physically cleaning your devices.
The best cybersecurity approaches aren’t always apparent, but that’s alright. Having a routine digital checkup is a great way to learn more about your network’s physical components. And the more one knows about their devices, the safer they can make them.