4. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to log onto the internet
Some of the work-related tasks you do at home may not require you to access the company’s servers. If you’re using Wi-Fi to get onto the internet, even from home, you can protect those transactions by using VPN software.
“A virtual private network will provide an encrypted tunnel to the outside world that will keep the data and the destination of that data secure,” Baumgartner explained.
5. Working from home doesn’t mean heading to the local coffee shop
Going online with your home Wi-Fi system (properly updated and secure) is more secure than going to a place that offers free Wi-Fi.
“We don't recommend going to your work websites or websites that require usernames and passwords when using free Wi-Fi,” Paige Hanson, chief of cybersecurity education at Norton LifeLock, said. “You really have to treat free Wi-Fi like someone's looking over your shoulder, knowing every single thing you type and what you click.”
If you must work away from home, Norton LifeLock advises using a VPN to encrypt all the traffic going into and out of your device.
Using your smartphone to create a mobile hot spot is a better way to go. Connecting your computer or tablet to your mobile device is better than using public Wi-Fi, Hanson said, because everything is encrypted that way.
6. Stick with designated company communications platforms
Because he works from home a lot, Wisniewski constantly needs to instant message his team. While it may be easy for you to use a third-party app that you already installed, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Viber or Google Hangouts, stick with the company’s officially approved communications tools.
“Companies typically have a preferred chat platform that they use for managing their teams and employees should use it, so the information you’re sharing can be protected,” Wisniewski said.
7. When in doubt, contact your IT department
Working from home means dealing with a lot of tech issues that were handled by trained professionals at work. If something doesn’t seem right or you’re not sure how to do something, contact your IT team.
“Corporate IT knows the best practices for your company,” Hanson said. “They’ll have all the do’s and don’ts for your organization.”
8. Be alert for hackers and scammers trying to take advantage of increased telecommuting
Anyone who works from home is a potential target for hackers and scammers.
“Never click on links or open attachments unless you confirm the identity of the sender,” said Adam Levin, chairman of CyberScout. “Understand that even if the sender is authentic, it is possible that he or she clicked on the wrong link and has sent you a malware-laden email.”
You also need to be especially careful of any email that relates to your work responsibilities. If you’re told to transfer money or sign a contract, something your boss might normally ask you to do, verify those instructions by phone before you do anything. That email could be from a criminal who’s hacked your corporate email, Levin cautioned.
The bottom line
For those who haven’t done it before, working from home is different. It may take you longer to do things. It may be more difficult to communicate with colleagues. It’s easy to get frustrated.
Just remember: When it comes to anything related to your job, security always tops speed and convenience. Preventing a problem is always easier than trying to fix one.
NEXT: How to stay productive — and connected — when you work from home
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