The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 changed the mode of working for many individuals and businesses, making remote working even more acceptable and widely used than before. With the wide spread of the virus, many organisations have asked members of staff to work from home in order to comply with government guidelines and reduce the risk of both a spread and contracting the virus. 

With this widespread working methodology comes the need to ensure the security of data and working spaces by staffers while at home.

Below are some tips for both businesses and employees to ensure the protection of data during these uncertain time:

  • While using work device at home, ensure it is secure at all times. 

As part of efforts to create a secure work space at home, do not use a work laptop for personal use, as this can increase the chance of compromise; this includes preventing family members from using it.

If you are handling very sensitive data, you should make sure the sightlines to your device are blocked while you are working. And when you finish up working, ideally, you should lock the door to your home office.

Employers should also make it clear that lost or compromised devices should be reported immediately so that the necessary steps can be taken to secure sensitive data.

  • Avoid the dissemination of sensitive information and documents through unsecure channels. It is thus advisable to avoid the use of public wi-fi to work or install VPNs to ensure the safety of one’s online presence.
  • When using a personal Wi-Fi connection, change the password from the manufacturer’s pre-set one, as these are often weak and shared by other router users of the same manufacturer or network. Also, reduce access of visitors and the public to the wi-fi password to create a more secure network. This is important when sending sensitive documents, information, password etc.

Also, do not use the name of the network provider as part of the internet routers name, as this automatically shows cybercriminals the type of network in use and makes hacking easy.

  • During video calls or screen sharing, ensure there are no notes, sensitive information visible to the camera as many have inadvertently shared more than necessary by this means.
  • Business owners must create a security protocol for breaches, both physical and cyber. This will include reporting break in, suspected unauthorised access to work devices or documents, etc. 
  • Where temporary workers employed, once their contract is over, ensure they are logged out of all networks and access to other work facilities restricted. 
  • Ensure home office/work station is secure at all times and not easily accessible by family members, visitors and intruders.
  • Create automatic lock for office devices used at home and when not in use, e.g. during breaks, do not leave devices unsupervised.
  • Ensure all home security protocols and measures are up to date.
  • Be cautious of wanderers and unknown persons within your living quarters, as they could be intruders, spies or fraudsters on the rampage.

It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive of the measures to be taken to ensure the security of data and working devices while working from home, but they are a good way to begin.