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Six tips for safe remote working

Posted onPosted on 23rd Feb

Mansfield is home to almost 3,000 businesses. The vast majority are classed as micro (0-9 employees) or small (10-49 employees). None of them can afford to be lax about cybersecurity, especially when working remotely.

With that in mind, Luke Watts, managing director of RoundWorks IT, shares his tips on how Mansfield SMEs can keep themselves safe whilst working from home.

Use up-to-date operating systems

Laptops and desktops should be running Windows 10, macOS Catalina or Chrome OS 88. Mobile devices should be running at least Android 10 (preferably Android 11) or iOS 14.4. Furthermore, all security patches should be applied and all devices should be promptly updated when new patches are released.

Keep software up-to-date

If you’re purely using cloud-based software, then updates will usually be managed for you. If, however, you have any locally-installed software at all, then you need to ensure that it is updated promptly. This includes mobile apps.

Protect all devices with security software

All devices means all devices for which security software is available. This currently means desktops, laptops, mobiles and tablets. Other smart devices do not usually have security software available. They do, however, tend to use niche operating systems, which makes them harder to compromise.

The main operating systems all come bundled with some form of security software. This is a lot better than nothing. You can, however, often get better free offerings from the main security companies (e.g. AVG, Comodo, Kaspersky and Norton).

You can also get decent free VPN software. VPNs are virtual private networks. They protect devices when using insecure internet connections. It’s strongly recommended to use a VPN even when working at home. This ensures that your data is protected even if your WiFi is compromised.

If you have the budget, it’s definitely worth investing in paid-for security software. This often has a lot more functionality. For example, paid-for security software will often have advanced internet- and email-filtering capabilities.

Take passwords seriously

These days, you need to use genuinely unique, strong passwords for all accounts, no matter how minor they seem. Bluntly, if an account isn’t worth the effort of securing, it isn’t worth having.

In the real world, this means that most people are going to need to use password-managers. This isn’t an ideal solution, because it creates a single point of failure. It is, however, far better than using weak and/or recycled passwords.

Use two-factor authentication whenever possible

Two-factor authentication means combining something you know (your password or PIN) with something you have (your mobile device or biometric data). If possible, implement it using an authenticator app rather than an SMS since this is even harder to intercept.

Take care of your physical devices

Remember that digital security is based on physical security. While lockdown is in place there is limited opportunity to lose devices outside the home. Similarly, there is little point in hackers compromising public WiFi connections or charging points. As restrictions are eased, however, these issues are practically guaranteed to start again.

If you must use memory cards, USB drives or other storage, buy them new from a reputable source. Be careful about what you put on them and password-protect them if possible. Make sure your screen is always facing a wall. Lock devices between uses and shut them down completely if they will be out of use for an extended period, for example overnight.