As more and more professionals are asked to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses could face an increase in attacks that could result in data breaches. Remote workers are susceptible to both physical and cyber thefts. The stakes are even higher when you are handling sensitive data, proprietary information, and client contracts at home.
It is thereby vital for employers and their employees to follow strict data protection guidelines as well as precautionary measures to monitor, detect, and respond to risks that could arise during this work-from-home period.
Here are some fundamental notes to keep in mind.
Create strong passwords
Passwords alone are not obsolete, but having strong and frequently updated passwords can protect your online identity and your business.
To help secure your digital life, passwords need to be:
- A secret. An unquestionable fact that you don't share your passwords, PIN, or CVV numbers to anyone. They are yours to keep.
- Different for each account that you own. That way, if one of your accounts is compromised, others can remain unharmed.
- Lengthy. Many experts recommend having a password of at least 16 characters long.
- Difficult to guess but easy to remember. Opt for a sentence or a phrase that is meaningful to you. For example, salmon onigiri.
- Complex. Add in special characters, numbers, uppercases, lowercases to increase the complexity of your password.
Diligently following all of the above guidelines can be challenging. Humans are not very good at remembering stuff. That's where solutions like a password manager app come in and save the day.
Password managers are safe deposit boxes that optimise and keep your passwords secure. Many offer to back-up your passwords and synchronise them across multiple systems. Therefore, you only need to remember one password to sign in to your password manager app, and the rest can be taken care of.
Several free options recommended by the University of California, Santa Barbara, are:
Pay attention to your physical security
Physical security is as important as your cybersecurity. Damage or lost data due to thefts, accidents, house fires, or natural disasters can result in financial losses.
Your devices and physical infrastructures are vulnerable to damages. Even at home, there are still risks. Not having adequate security measures, which allow criminals to break in and steal your valuables, is one of them.
A basic rule of thumb is to keep them within sight as well as keeping all entrances and windows tightly locked before going to sleep. Additional precautionary methods to implement are:
- Back up your data often using hard drives or cloud-based solutions
- If applicable, install a security camera
- Use locking cables on laptops and desktops
- Keep a fire extinguisher that is suitable for electrical equipment within reach
- Make sure you have erased all data in the device before disposing
- Company's belongings tend to be insured. You can consider a similar plan for your devices at home.
We tend to have food to snack on and something to drink next to our workstation. Food crumbs and liquid can get into the equipment and damage them. Water damage occurs more often than you think.
Therefore, try your best not to eat in front of your computer. If you want to have some water nearby, use a container with a lid to minimise the risk of accidentally dousing your entire workspace.
If you have to bring your devices somewhere, carry them using a padded bag. Many tablets and laptops are broken simply by dropping them.
For hard copies of contracts and other confidential documents, make sure you store them in a locked filing cabinet. Practice strict shredding policy just like how you normally do in the office. More important, don't display sensitive papers out in public, even if you are sure that your home is absolutely safe.
Make full use of modern applications to improve productivity
There are a wide array of reliable solutions, tools, and software to help us to stay productive and achieve our goals while keeping our data safe during physical distancing.
These tools are built to automate processes that are otherwise labour intensive and time-consuming, such as editing documents, organising and sharing notes, reading online content, tracking time, managing tasks/ projects, scheduling meetings, issuing and sending invoices, etc. When these manual processes are eliminated, your productivity increases as a result.
Read more: 5 reasons to invest in workflow automation
Below are some of our favourites you should look into today:
- Microsoft Teams: a communication and collaboration platform that offers workplace chatting, video meetings and scheduling, file sharing, classroom training, and many more. The tool comes with your company's Office 365 subscriptions and can integrate with many other applications to match your needs.
Besides MS Teams, Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts are also businesses and individuals' favourites when it comes to virtual communication.
- Slack: one of the most sought-after communication tools for remote teams. Slack allows you to chat with your teams regardless of their geographical locations, create specific chat channels, share files, stay organised, and add comments to documents. What's more, Slack integrates well with multiple software and social media platforms to further increase your communication.
- Trello: a highly recommended platform for project management. Its simple and straightforward interface brings incredible organisational and task management power.
Other big names in the project management realm include Microsoft Project, Basecamp, Asana, and Bitrix24.
- Amazon Workspaces: a solution that allows you to access your desktop securely via any device when you are at home but the equipment or data that you need is in the office. It is more cost-effective compared to traditional desktops or other virtual options.