In this day and age, employees are more connected than ever. The hybrid workplace is here to stay, and for employees, this means relying on connected devices from their home office setups. According to recent data, smart home systems are set to rise to a market value of $157 billion by 2023, and the number of installed connected devices in the home is expected to rise by a staggering 70% by 2025. In this new normal where smart devices and consequently online safety are a must, here are some tips for securing those devices.
This article was originally published in 2021, but has since been updated to include the latest cybersecurity information.
Remember smart devices need smart security
Make cybersecurity a priority when purchasing a connected device. When setting up a new device, be sure to set up the privacy and security settings on web services and devices bearing in mind that you can limit who you are sharing information with. Once your device is set up, remember to keep tabs on how secure the information is that you store on it, and to actively manage location services so as not to unwittingly expose your location.
Put cybersecurity first in your job
Make cybersecurity a priority when you are brought into a new role. Good online hygiene should be part of any organization’s onboarding process, but if it is not, then take it upon yourself to exercise best practices to keep your company safe. Some precautions include performing regular software updates, and enabling MFAs.
Make passwords and passphrases long and strong
Whether or not the website you are on requires it, be sure to combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create the most secure password. Generic passwords are easy to hack. If you need help remembering and storing your passwords, don’t hesitate to turn to a password manager for assistance.
Never use public computers to log in to any accounts
While working from home, you may be tempted to change scenery and work from a coffee shop or another type of public space. While this is a great way to keep the day from becoming monotonous, caution must be exercised to protect yourself and your company from harm’s way. Make sure that security is top of mind always, and especially while working in a public setting, by keeping activities as generic and anonymous as possible.
Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth when idle
The uncomfortable truth is, when WiFi and Bluetooth are on, they can connect and track your whereabouts. To stay as safe as possible, if you do not need them, switch them off. It’s a simple step that can help alleviate tracking concerns and incidents.
Maintain Good Device Hygiene
This covers day to day practices that when ignored can add up to a vulnerable machine. Poor device hygiene can include:
- Not logging out of applications when finished
- Leaving application windows open
- Long intervals between device resets
- Running old or outdated applications
- Not updating your operating system with the latest security patches
Use Two Factor Authentication
Even if your device has antivirus software installed enabling two factor authentication (2FA) will help to ensure that your device secure. 2FA enables a second layer of protection against fraud as the fraudsters need access to multiple devices to gain access to your machine.
Reset your Wi-Fi Password
It's common practice to reset your application passwords but a lot of the time your wireless router could be forgotten. Using a simple password or, even worse, the default password can leave your entire home network open to a breach. Securing your home router should be a priority for anyone working from home. Poor security on your router can leave you open to a man-in-the-middle, data sniffing, or any other kind of attack.
Backup your Files
Always keep a backup. If available, a cloud backup solution can offer a seamless way of protecting your files. If cloud backup is not available, look at the use of an external hard drive and regularly perform a system backup. Modern operating systems, such as Windows and macOS, also offer automated backup options.
Encrypt your Data
Most modern operating systems come with built in encryption tools that allow you to encrypt all files on a device. You will need to enable this yourself as encryption is usually set to off by default. You should also make sure any emails you send that contain sensitive data are encrypted; especially any attached files. Outlook (and other popular email clients) supports encryption but, like your Operating System, will need to be setup and enabled.
See how to Encrypt email messages in outlook: LINK
These are just a few simple steps towards achieving the best online safety possible. Staying safe online is an active process that requires constant overseeing at every stage - from purchasing and setting up a device, to making sure that your day-to-day activities are not putting anyone at risk. By following these steps, you are doing your part to keep yourself and your company safe from malicious online activity.
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