What kind of computer security programs and systems have you equipped your home office or business with? If a hacker were to try to take over your computer or otherwise get at your data, how difficult of a time would they have doing so? If you were to become the victim of a cyber-attack, what kind of damage would your professional life suffer? These are vital questions every professional who works from home needs to ask themselves.
Most people will overestimate their office security, partially because they feel confident with the rest of their skills (and they probably should) and partially because security is often seen as an unnecessary expense that takes time and money away from growth. Those people are right about it being unnecessary up until the quick second when it becomes a thing of absolute importance. At that point, it’s too late to change your mind. You need to prepare to defend your home office now.
Here are some things you need to consider about the security of your home office:
The Value of Your Digital Assets
All of the data on your computer is more valuable than you think, especially if you are a professional who works with confidential company data or personal records. A single set of personal info can easily net a cybercriminal what you make over the course of a few hours. Multiply that by the number of sets of data that you have on your computer, and you can figure out pretty quickly that the time spent intruding is often worth it to cybercriminals if successful.
You need to scale the level of your security with the value of the data on your devices. If you have data that you literally cannot afford to lose or have copied, you need to invest in cybersecurity at a level that fits that description. You don’t need to break the bank, but you can’t get away with cutting costs for too long without an incident.
Basic Security Measures
There is a good chance that you are already doing most of these things or have most of these tools, but most people forget one or two of the following things:
- Your devices should at least have some sort of security suite installed on them to keep out viruses and malware. This should not be a free program (nothing is free on the internet, no matter what you are told), and it should be able to handle various types of threats you might face.
- You need to be careful about what websites you visits and links you open while on your work devices. A single bad website can lead to a high malware risk that you might not be able to avoid.
- You need strong verification measures and the best passwords you can remember.
- You need to be able to protect your office from problematic house guests as well as hackers halfway across the world.
Know what phishing and scam emails look like and how to deal with them.
Remember that a lapse in the basics makes it extremely difficult to have good computer security. Review good habits and make them part of your working life.
Public Network Dangers
You don’t always keep your work at home, and you may very well want to meet with clients somewhere outside the office. Unfortunately all of the security you have in your home office will not travel with you everywhere you go. Public networks are your biggest immediate problem, as on them hackers can intercept just about any data you send or receive over the network. This can lead to immediate loss of confidential data or even identity theft. Fraud is also a common result of this type of attack.
The best way to protect yourself is with a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which is a service that will connect you with an offsite secure server via an encrypted connection. The encryption will keep hackers from seeing anything you’re doing on any network. The server will mask your IP address so that all of your activities online remain safe from IP tracking. It also is designed so that you can access otherwise locked sites such as Netflix while you are travelling, making it a great research and leisure tool while you are away on business.
If it is at all possible (and you should make this a priority item), you should separate your work devices from your personal or family devices. People do things on their personal computer that generally expose them to more risk than their business activities would. Family members might accidentally corrupt or delete important files that are related to your work. They might even open it up to copying thinking that it’s another file.
It is not worth the risk. Make sure that you invest in your own equipment for your home office and make sure that it’s only used for your home office. Only you can know what your office needs, but try to make quality purchases that will last so you don’t have to waste time on hardware failure every couple of months. Remember that this also gives you the added benefit of keeping your personal files and data separated from your business data, should your business become the victim of a cyberattack.
Your home office is more than just a room where you live. It is the foundation of your livelihood and a place where you should feel focused to do what you need to do. You do not need the distraction and the emergency of a cyberattack infiltrating your work when you already have plenty on your plate. Remember to make it a priority so this doesn’t happen.
Do you have any other concerns about your home office that should be addressed or you’ve dealt with in the past? Do you have any additional information to add to what is listed above? If so, please leave a reply below as we love to hear from readers about their thoughts.