Security tips for your home office setup
Have you thought much about your home IT network beyond speed, download limit and cost?
You probably never felt like you needed to but, if you’re working from home, you now need to be protecting your business from all the usual cyber threats without the business grade infrastructure you ordinarily have access to.
Home networks often lack the tools built in to business networks such as strong antivirus software, customised firewalls, and automatic online backup tools. This increases the risk of a breach and both personal and work-related information being leaked.
To fortify your home network, there are a number of things you need to do.
Use strong passwords
Best practice password management is critical to protecting your information and privacy. Two key elements form the foundation of safe passwords:
- You should have a different password for each and every portal or account that you use.
- The password you choose should follow a set of rules making it hard to hack.
For most people, the limit to the number of separate passwords you can remember is around eight. This can lead us to formulate overly simple passwords (bad) or repeat passwords across sites (very bad).
The best way to formulate and remember secure passwords for every single login is to use password manager.
I recommend LastPass. LastPass is a password manager that integrates with your web browser on all your devices to autofill your logins and passwords. LastPass has a free plan that is suitable for most people.
Set up two-factor authentication
Two factor authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of security used to make sure that people trying to gain access to an online account are who they say they are.
First, you enter your username and password. Then, instead of immediately gaining access, you provide another piece of information.
This is good because:
- it uses two separate channels
- the code is randomly generated, so it can’t be guessed
- the code has a limited lifetime.
Many cloud services, including Office 365, have built-in 2FA features. You just need to start using them.
Install software and system updates regularly
Make sure up-to-date antivirus protection is installed and active on any devices that will be used for work.
Keep security software current and turn on automatic software updates. Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system is the best defence against viruses, malware and other online threats.
Set up firewalls
Firewalls create a barrier between your device and the internet by closing communication ports. This can prevent unwanted traffic from entering your network, and data from leaking.
Your device’s operating system will typically have a built-in firewall. Hardware firewalls are also built in to many routers. Just make sure that yours are enabled.
Secure your home router
It’s important to protect your home network from the possibility that a malicious actor could gain access to any devices connected to it. The first step is to change the router password and make sure it’s a strong one.
You should also make sure firmware updates are installed so that security vulnerabilities can be patched. Wireless encryption should be set to WPA2 or WPA3. Restrict inbound and outbound traffic, use the highest level of encryption available, and switch off WPS.
Lock your device
If your home office is accessible to pets, children, housemates or spouses; it’s a good idea to lock your devices when you’re not using them.
I wrote the other day about the basic security advice we all need to heed as we begin the great work from home migration of 2020.
This unprecedented shift in Australia’s work routine may lead to a lasting change, and more people working from home permanently.
It’s impossible to predict anything at the moment. All we can do is work on keeping ourselves and others safe.