A New Era: Three Ways to Secure Your Home Office

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Digital security has never been more important in our increasingly tech-driven world, as the pandemic forces professionals and students to adapt to working and learning from home. People have more connected devices than ever before, whether tablets, smartphones, laptops or computers – and with many organizations taking a work-from-home approach, professionals are spending more time on these devices – which is why it’s essential to take steps to ensure they know the basics of online safety.

Anyone’s home can be the target of a cyberattack. Yet, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), one of the biggest misconceptions about home network security is that home networks are too small to be at risk of cyber attack. Because your home office is indeed at risk, it is essential to protect your home office from threats targeting Internet-connected devices. Luckily, you don’t have to be a cybersecurity expert to learn how to secure your home office: anyone can do it. Below are three strategies I use at home to protect my network from invasions.

1. Secure your home and personal devices

Every personal device used is a potential entry for system threats. To prevent cybercriminals from infiltrating someone’s computer and connected devices, something as simple as taking inventory of all the devices in the house and making sure they have the latest updates. software updates can help in this endeavor. This includes regularly updating your applications, operating systems, and web browsers to ensure they have the latest protections in place to eliminate or fix any vulnerabilities.

Another way to keep all of your home devices secure is to update your passwords regularly. Keeping the same passwords or sharing passwords across multiple accounts may seem convenient, but it makes your home a prime target for attackers. As a workaround, consider creating a password with a random phrase, numbers, and special characters.

Additionally, companies should consider mandating the use of password managers to store, generate, and manage their passwords. Password managers are convenient and incorporate privacy measures, allowing work-from-home professionals to create multiple password vaults on their devices.

2. Secure your personal data

Backing up your data regularly is an essential exercise that people don’t often think about until you’ve lost or compromised important files. New cyber threats such as phishing attacks or ransomware are forcing remote workers to secure important files by regularly backing them up, either offline to an external hard drive or with a secure cloud provider. This can help protect against data loss, a device breaking down, or personal data being held for ransom.

3. Secure your Wi-Fi

Cybercriminals target networks that don’t see them coming. Work-from-home professionals need to be as diligent about safety as their office colleagues. One of the best ways to protect your devices from potential compromise is to secure your Wi-Fi network. Setting basic security measures on your home Wi-Fi network is as essential as locking your car doors to prevent someone from breaking in. Home-based professionals should change the Wi-Fi network name from what’s on the box, choose passwords that can’t be easily guessed, and change passwords regularly.

One of the biggest mistakes that work-from-home professionals tend to make is assuming they aren’t worthy of a cyberattack. Digital security risks are everywhere, but with the simple strategies outlined here, you can take a proactive role in protecting your home office. From regularly backing up important files to securing WiFi, you can better protect yourself against potential threats when you’re armed with information. These practical steps are how I keep my own home office safe and secure. It’s never too late for everyone start practicing good cyber hygiene.

About Heather Mahalik

Heather is a faculty member at the SANS Institute and Senior Director of Digital Intelligence at Cellebrite. She has worked on high-profile cases, investigating everything from child exploitation to major terrorism cases. As a faculty member of SANS, she is the author and course leader for FOR585: Smartphone Forensic Analysis.

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