With over 95% of the country currently on “stay at home” orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have quickly had to transition to a remote workforce.
It’s definitely a much easier realignment today than it would’ve been before the widespread adoption of cloud computing, but it’s not without its challenges.
One of the biggest challenges is ensuring the security of company applications and data when employees are working from home.
Keeping a business network protected with the proper IT security measures is difficult enough, but with “at home” workers, companies are dealing with multiple home networks. There are any number of security issues that can arise with telecommuting staff, including:
- Home routers with weak security
- Work devices sharing a wireless network with “high risk” devices (doorbell cameras, etc.)
- Work being done on employee PCs that aren’t properly updated
- Employee-owned computers not having adequate antivirus protection
In February 2020, as many as 130,000 Asus Routers were hacked due to an unapplied security patch.
Businesses in Tennessee and the rest of the country don’t have much of a choice when it comes to the requirement to have employees telecommute due to stay at home guidelines. But they do have options when it comes to securing those remote workers.
We’ll go through several of the most important safeguards to put in place to help employees stay secure when working from home.
Things You Can Do to Improve Home IT Security
You can both work from home and stay secure at the same time, even if your home router doesn’t have the same security as the business network at the office.
It just takes applying some important safeguards that, when layered together, greatly increase your data and network security.
Use a Good Antivirus/Anti-Malware Program
Having a good antivirus/anti-malware program on the computer you’re using for work is vital to ensure you don’t get a ransomware or other malicious code infection.
If you have a Windows 10 computer, then you have some important safeguards already that you can use to protect your device. They just may need to be turned on.
In the Windows Settings go to the Windows Security area and you’ll find protection areas such as:
- Virus & threat protection
- Ransomware protection
- Firewall & network protection
Connect Online Using a VPN
One of the safest ways to connect online is through a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN acts a secure and encrypted tunnel that stands between you and the internet at large.
Using a business VPN for all employees can solve the issue of potentially unsecure wireless home networks. All traffic runs through the VPN server and is protected from being intercepted by a hacker (even if they’re logged into the same network).
Keep Your Operating System, Software, and Router Firmware Updated
Those updates that people often find annoying are vitally important when it comes to device and network security.
Router firmware updates usually have to be done manually, which is why so many residential routers get hacked. To check for an update, connect to your router using an ethernet cable, access the settings and check for any updates.
Software and operating system updates can be done for you using managed IT services. But, if you prefer to do them manually, just make sure you set a time each week that you check for updates and apply them throughout your computer.
Why are they so important? Because approximately 60% of data breaches happen because a software vulnerability was exploited – one that had a security patch issued, but never applied.
Segment Your Home Router
When your work PC is sharing a home Wi-Fi network with a child’s voice activated speaker or other IoT devices, it puts it at a higher risk of being breached. That’s because a hacker can hack into a “high risk” device and from there get into other devices on the same network.
Separate your work PC and any other devices with sensitive data from those that are higher risk by segmenting your router.
Here is how to do it:
- Set up a Guest Network on your router
- Change the password for your main network so devices no longer connect automatically
- You now have 2 home Wi-Fi networks
- Put all sensitive devices on one network and all higher risk devices on another
Use Two-Factor Authentication for All Business Cloud Apps
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is proven to significantly reduce the chance of an account compromise due to hacked or stolen login credentials.
Enable 2FA on all business cloud applications that you use, as well as any other sensitive accounts. The few extra seconds to input a code sent to your device is well worth it for the major security improvement.
Need Help Securing Telecommuting Employees?
Do you need help taking your employees through home IT security steps? Our Unbound Digital technicians can login remotely to their PCs and help them ensure their devices and your business data are protected.
Contact us today to schedule a free remote security consultation. Call 423-335-2461 or reach us online.