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March 17, 2020

Privacy Tip of the Week: Stay Safe While Working From Home

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News of COVID-19 dominates today’s news headlines. The novel coronavirus sweeping the world has impacted dozens of countries globally. Social distancing has become the new norm. Because of this, many businesses are deciding to make the switch to a work-from-home model. Although working from home has its perks, it also poses unique challenges. One challenge in particular is that of safety. How do businesses keep their work and employees safe online? Take a look at these easy tips:

  • Set up two-factor authentication
  • Use encrypted messengers
  • Compartmentalize work
  • Lock your screen
  • Set up a VPN

Set Up Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is a security measure that can be added to online accounts. This tool requires users to input their password, as well as a second code in order to log in. In most cases, users receive the second code either through text or email. For businesses moving to a work-from-home model, 2FA is a great safety solution. Because employees will be logging into accounts from home, 2FA ensures that you recognize all logins. In addition, this level of security is great even for businesses not working from home.

Use Encrypted Messengers

Normally, when you work, you can talk to co-workers face to face. Boardroom meetings are common. However, working from home puts an end to in-person conversations. Because of this, businesses need a new way to communicate. There are plenty of tools available. Popular options include Slack and even Facebook. However, because business conversations may include sensitive information, you probably want that information to be encrypted. This prevents it from falling into the wrong hands, like those of hackers or competitors. In order to secure your messages, pick an app that uses end-to-end encryption, or E2E. With this type of system, only the sender and receiver can see the contents of a message. WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal are all examples of E2E messaging apps.

Compartmentalize Work

Separating your work life from your personal life is important for everyone. Normally, separation happens by default. Employees keep their work life on their work computer. Personal lives, by extension, normally happen on at-home devices. However, when working from home becomes the norm, mixing these two lives happens more often. Although this might not seem like a big deal, it poses unexpected risks to a business. For example, home devices might not have the same levels of security as ones at work. In addition, by mixing files, it becomes easier to accidentally share them outside of an organization. If your business has moved to a work-from-home model, encourage employees to use different devices for work and fun, if possible. Other options include having them create different accounts on the same device, or simply asking them to use different browsers for each purpose.

Lock Your Screen

When you step away from your computer, it’s always best to lock your screen. This advice applies to employees working from home or in an office. Locking devices when not in use prevents others, like family members and roommates, from seeing your work or snooping through your files. Of course, not all people snoop, so what’s the point of locking your screen then? If you live with a pet, it prevents them from sending gibberish messages to your boss or clients. Finally, if your work-from-home situation means going to a cafe or other public place for free wi-fi, locking your screen is imperative to keep information private and also to mitigate damage from possible theft.

Set Up a VPN

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a must-have for any employees working from home. VPNs are security tools that create encrypted connections between users and the sites they visit. This protects sensitive information from leaking, if employees have to work from a public space to access free wi-fi. In addition, VPNs allow for connections to the servers of a business, so employees can access important files remotely. This prevents your business from having to spend time transferring files to cloud services or external storage.

Social distancing doesn’t have to shut your business down entirely. Safely working from home is a great solution for many. Who knows, maybe it will even set the path for how your business operates in the future?

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