Working from home? There’s a lot to think about! Each year, the second full week of January is designated as Home Office Safety and Security Week. If you work from home, even just from time to time, there are several security measures you should consider implementing to help you Be Sure.
Securing Your Home Office
Working from home is different than working in a corporate environment where you have information technology and security departments that work in the background to secure the work environment.
Some safety and security measures are obvious and relevant for any home, even if you don’t have a home office. For example, having an emergency/ fire escape plan, working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and properly grounded electrical outlets make sense for every home. However, some safety measures are more specific to those who run their own business from home or work remotely for an employer.
If you work with sensitive data or information (either paper or digital), think about whether some of these situations apply to your work now or in the future:
- Is your computer’s firewall software and anti-virus software up to date and active?
- Have you changed the default password on your router? Default passwords are vulnerable and can usually be found with a quick online search.
- Is your data backed up? If you regularly work with files local to your computer that are not on a server or manually transferred to a server at the end of each day, you risk losing all your work at any time.
- Are there other devices in your home connected to the internet? It’s important that computers, smart phones, smart devices like internet- connected cameras, thermostats and routers are all up to date with the latest security patches.
- How good are your passwords and how often do you change them? If you don’t want to continually change passwords, consider a password manager. Input all your passwords into one program and then change the master password easily whenever needed.
- Working with paper copies? If the information or data is sensitive, be sure to store paper files in a locked drawer, or even a fireproof safe or file cabinet.
- Finally, what would you do in a worst-case scenario, such as a loss of data or equipment? Consider whether you need insurance protection. Residential policies may not cover home office losses.
Even if you don’t work from home regularly, take this week as an opportunity to update your online protections, shred old documents, and maintain an organized and secure home office.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider to make sure that you and your office space are protected when you work from home. If you’d like more information, visit the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s pages on online security.