In this modern day and age you need to protect your home office from hackers. Working at home affords us many benefits compared to commuting to a traditional office. At the same time, it also demands a certain degree of additional vigilance. Without the security resources of a major company behind you, the dangers of cybercrime fall solely in your lap.
That’s why you need to be vigilant and do what it takes to secure your home office against digital invasion. There are a number of avenues hackers can take to reach you, so you’ll want to cover as many as possible for as little out of pocket cost as possible.
Don’t think you aren’t an attractive target, either; small businesses (including entrepreneurs and freelancers) rank high among hackers’ favorite targets over the past few years. Even a small amount of data can be valuable to these thieves.
So stop them in their tracks; here are some tips to protect your home office from hackers.
Secure Your Internet Connection to Protect Your Home Office From Hackers
Because a home office isn’t exactly the most accessible location for criminals, you’ll be dealing with threats almost exclusively online. Very few criminals will realistically be breaking into your physical computer to access private data; these types of criminals won’t even make it past your basic login screen.
But just outside your house is another matter. If you’re utilizing WiFi internet in your home office, that connection needs to be protected. Setting a WPA2 password, if your router supports it, is a necessary step in deterring bandwidth thieves and hackers. Just make sure that password isn’t easy to guess and that you change it periodically.
For extra security, go beyond just protecting your WiFi; protect your PC’s connection directly using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. A VPN is a type of remote server you connect to between your device and the rest of the net.
It serves as an intermediary, encrypting your sent and received data and allowing you to use its IP address in place of your own for added anonymity. Whether you’re protecting just a standalone PC or multiple devices, this guide by Secure Thoughts is a good place to read about some of the better VPNs currently available.
Don’t worry too much about a firewall if you’re using a router; they usually serve that purpose on their own. However, if you connect directly to your modem, you may need to consider using firewall software to make sure your internet ports are properly closed and monitored. The default firewall provided by Windows is an “okay” choice, but you’re better off utilizing something like ZoneAlarm or Kaspersky. These are some ways you can use to protect your home office from hackers.
Diversify Your Login Details
Today, working from home frequently means having a slew of different accounts to log in to. This can be a problem for us because remembering the actual login names and passwords can get dizzying. The result tends to be the lazy choice: reuse the same names and passwords.
This kind of risky behavior can quickly become a systemic problem that leads to a multi-account breach. Once one password is stolen or guessed, other accounts can and will fall victim soon after. Your best lines of defense against this problem are:
- Password Managers
- Two-Factor Authentication
Password managers such as LastPass allow you to encrypt and store dozens of unique passwords which you will automatically access via a single strong password that you can change regularly. This way, no single account breach will be tied back to other accounts. Additionally, you’re less likely to fall victim to keylogging malware because you aren’t typing the password each time.
Two-Factor Authentication is a growing industry standard where accounts are protected by a second, random password sent to another source at the time of logging in such as in a text message or email. Though not 100 percent immune from tricks, the added security provided by a second password is enough to beat out the vast majority of cybercriminals.
Prepare to Avoid Scams
The best security software in the world is no match for social engineering; that’s where phishing scams outshine even the greatest technological feats. Your goal to keep your office safe is to understand how these scams work and how to identify them.
Most phishing scams follow a similar pattern: the hacker sends an email or private message to the intended victim claiming to be an official representative of some company, institution or government body. They then request something simple:
- Visit this website to reset your password
- Please confirm your credit card or billing address
- See the attached file
All accomplish the same goal of stealing information. The first usually takes you to a familiar looking website; closer inspection usually reveals a URL that differs from the real website, often with different end extensions like Facebook.com.hack.com instead of Facebook.com.
The second instance may appear when a fake email claims that your credit card was stolen or something else “official” sounding. Spoof emails will contain believable subjects and titles that look close to the real deal. The emails are typically sent from bogus addresses.
Attached files can also be dangerous. Although many email services now screen for infected files, they aren’t perfect. If you didn’t request an email or attachment, be careful. Even if the file is sent by a friend, you may want to confirm with them outside of the net that they intended to send you a file.
Back it All Up
The last thing you need in your office is a secure backup of important information to protect your home office from hackers. You should do this regularly, both online and offline, so that you have multiple copies of valuable data in case the worst happens. Your offline backup is your disaster recovery because it is safe from both the internet and your computer.
With these steps, you have a very good chance of avoiding a hacker’s crosshairs. There are other things you can do as well, such as installing a good anti-virus program, but hopefully that’s something you’ve already.
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