In recent years we have seen the opportunity to work from home grow in popularity.  More employers are recognising the benefits that flexible and home working can have on the productivity of their employees (thanks to a reduced commute, better work/life balance, and the flexibility around family commitments that working at home allows).  In recent weeks, the coronavirus lockdown has seen more employees than ever relying on remote working to keep their business operating.  To ensure your switch to remote working doesn’t cause cyber security problems for your employers and employees follow the handy security checklist below from cyber security specialist Francis West, CEO of Westtek.

 

1.  Physical security

Make sure your work devices are physically safe, and that you avoid offering unauthorised views of confidential information.

  1. If you need to leave your home for supplies or other reasons, make sure your work devices are either shut down or locked – including any mobile phones.
  2. If you live with a roommate or young children, be sure to lock your computer even when you step away for just a bit.

 

2.  System access

  1. Access to your computer’s desktop should at least be password protected, and the password should be a strong one.
  2. Use password managers to help you generate complex passwords that will make it very hard for hackers to crack and therefore keeping your accounts safer. Make sure you lockdown the password manager with two-factor authentication.
  3. Use Two Factor Authentication wherever possible on every account you access using the Microsoft Authenticator App or similar.
  4. Check whether data encryption is active on your work machine.
  5. If you’re connecting your work computer to your home network, make sure you don’t have it visible to other computers in the network.
  6. If you have to add your work computer to your home network, then make sure the option to share files if off.
  7. Ensure anti-virus is in place and fully updated. Get Security Everywhere for advanced Cyber Protection if you want your computers to be protected against UN-KNOWN threats. Four new versions of UN-KNOWN threats (malware) are released on the planet every one second!
  8. Check all security software is up to date: Privacy tools, add-ons for browsers and other patches need to be checked regularly.
  9. Have a back-up strategy and remember to do it: All important files should be backed up regularly.
  10. Never use your computer to charge mobile devices as they can easily infect your Windows or MAC computer. Use a wall charger every time instead.

 

3.  Separate work and personal devices

  1. Keep your main work computer and your main home computer separate (if you have more than one such device).
  2. If you can do the same for your mobile devices – even better.
  3. Don’t send work related emails from your private email address and vice versa.
  4. Keep your child’s digital curriculum separate from your work device.

 

4.  Secure connections

  1. Make sure you have access to your organisation’s cloud infrastructure through a VPN with encryption.
  2. Secure your home Wi-Fi with a strong password, in case VPN isn’t an option or if it fails for some reason.
  3. Access to the settings on your home router should be password protected as well. Be sure to change the default password it came with – not 12345, please!
  4. Most importantly of all, “self-isolate” all your work computers and devices from the rest of the family, by setting up a Home Guest Wi-Fi and then connect your work devices to the Guest Wi-Fi. Ask your Internet provider to help you with this if you are unsure.

 

5.  Watch for Phishing

  1. Be wary of phishing emails trying to capitalise on fear related to the coronavirus, questions about isolation and its psychological impacts, or even pretending to offer advice or health information. Scan those emails with a sharp eye and do not open attachments unless they’re from a known, trusted source.
  2. Your organisation may be sending you many emails and missives about new workflows, processes, or reassurances to employees. Watch out for those disguising themselves a high-ranking employees and pay close attention to the actual email address of senders.

Having to work from home en-masse has been a huge adjustment for lots of small businesses who have not experienced working remotely before.  Working from home has worked well for the Bells Accountants team so far, and by following the simple steps outlined by Westtek above, we can be assured that we are doing so as safely as possible.