By Carolanne M. Chavanne, CFP
As millions around the globe continue to work from home, it’s important to remain vigilant when it comes to staying safe online. Here are eight cybersecurity tips that you can start utilizing today.
Tip #1: Encrypt Sensitive Data in Your Emails
If your position at work requires you to send sensitive information regularly, it’s important to encrypt data that’s been attached to your emails.1 In the event that a third-party is able to intercept an email, encrypted information is much less likely to be compromised.
Tip #2: Use Public Wi-Fi With Caution
While most of us have been keeping our distance, there’s a chance that coffee shops and coworking spaces will be opening up again soon. If you decide to relocate your virtual office to a public space, it’s crucial that you still utilize a secure internet connection. Public wi-fi, especially that which is not password protected, is not secure and can easily be infiltrated.
Some options when using wi-fi outside of your home or office include:
- Activating a personal hotspot from your phone or personal computer.
- Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network), which provides a secure connection to different services (web pages, email, a SQL server, etc.).
- Establish encrypted remote connections to a remote desktop or other individual servers.
Tip #3: Keep Work Data on Your Work Computer
It may not seem like a big deal if you do some work on your personal computer, but in some cases, it can be. If your company has a dedicated IT person or team, it’s likely they’re sending important updates to your computer, regularly running antivirus scans and blocking malicious sites. In other words, your work computer may have the preventative work and maintenance done on it to help keep you safe and protected online. Unless you’re diligently doing the same at home, your personal computer may not be as well protected.
If antivirus scans and software are not running regularly in the background, then what you’re doing online could be intercepted by a third-party. Depending on what you’re doing, access work documents or backend sites on your home computer could be putting your company and its network at risk.
Tip #4: Avoid Email Scams and Phishing
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, remain vigilant of potential scam emails, either by unknown addresses or by scammers posing as people/businesses you know. Once a scammer gains your trust or injects an undetected virus, they may try to steal important information such as passwords, account numbers or your Social Security number.2
Tip #5: Don’t Leave Your Laptop Unattended
It may be tempting to do so, but never leave your laptop out in the open when working somewhere other than home. This could include keeping it in the car, on a table or anywhere unattended. You never know who may be watching and waiting to take your belongings when you walk away.
Tip #6: Be Selective When Using USB Flash Drives
You may have various thumb drives sitting around the house that you’ve acquired over the years. If you can’t remember where it came from, think twice before using it. Do not continue to use one if you have plugged it into a system for whose safety you can’t vouch for.
Tip #7: Use a USB Data Blocker When Charging at a Public Station
The time for people to begin working at shared working spaces again is drawing nearer. If you find yourself somewhere where you have access to a public charger, consider using a USB Data Blocker to prevent data exchange and guard against malware.
Tip #8: Keep your Passwords Safe
Make sure that you keep your computer, email and important documents safe and secure. In order to do so, you may want to consider using a password-saving tool, such as LastPass or Dashlane. These third-party tools allow you to safely store passwords you typically use online, saving you the headache of having to remember multiple passwords across various sites.
In regards to password creation and maintenance, there are few tips you can follow to help keep your accounts secure. These include:
- Don’t use real words
- Don’t use personal information
- Create long passwords
- Change passwords regularly
- Don’t type them on public devices3
As states start to reopen in phases, many people will be heading back to work or their favorite virtual office spot. Whether you’re at-home, in a coffee shop or visiting a coworking space, continue to utilize these cybersecurity tips to keep yourself and your company’s information safe.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.