Working from home office has become an alternative for many people due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These professionals, however, need to take extra care with online security. IT departments of large companies often take serious steps to prevent leakage of corporate information, but small businesses and professionals alike should also take precautions when adopting remote work. Here are ten tips for the home office that will help increase the security of your data during work at home in times of coronavirus.
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1. Change and protect your passwords
It must be assumed that the home network is less secure than corporate. The recommendation of security companies like ESET and Panda Security to adopt strong passwords and enable two-step verification on all online services. Swap weak or very old passwords for 12-digit strings by merging numbers, letters and symbols. Experts also indicate that long sentences can have even more effect against possible attempts at invasion.
Services like LastPass help to create strong passwords Photo: Reproduo / Paulo Alves
Do not write down passwords on paper or common notepads. Instead, opt for digital safes specializing in storing sensitive information, such as LastPass and 1Password, both with a mobile app and a browser extension. Another option is to record logins in Chrome's password manager. Furthermore, it is important to enter a password and configure the computer's digital reader.
2. Install a good antivirus
It is essential to scan the computer with a good antivirus before starting work, especially if the machine is personal. Malwarebytes is one of the best for this type of task, while software such as AVG and BitDefender are good free alternatives to complement Windows Defender, which comes pre-installed on Windows 10.
Malwarebytes is one of the main anti-malware software on the market Photo: Reproduo / Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
It is important to note that Mac users should also seek extra protection: the Apple platform has been increasingly targeted by hackers, among other factors, because users think the system is more secure than it really is. AVG is one of the popular options with version for macOS.
3. Change the default password for the router
Before using home Wi-Fi to work, make sure the router is no longer configured with the manufacturer's default password. This type of code is usually widely known, which ends up eliminating an important security bed on the network: if an attacker accesses your Wi-Fi, you can quickly control the main point of the network and infect other devices.
Changing the default login and password for router settings avoids network attacks Photo: Reproduo / Raquel Freire
The procedure to change the password can be performed by PC or cell phone and usually varies according to the model. In general, I need to enter the router's IP address in the browser, insert the default login data and change the data in the security option. See how to do this on Intelbras equipment, D-Link, TP-Link and on NET's modem.
Even while enhancing home network security, using VPN is still the best way to protect company data when working from home. Virtual network technology creates a kind of tunnel between your computer and the company's server, preventing any intruders from having access to the information that is trafficked. The solution is indicated for those who do home office and need to have access to documents that will be on the company's computers.
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN options to use in the home office Photo: Divulgao / ExpressVPN
Do not use free VPN on the computer. To work, prefer to use VPN with a paid plan, which offers more security guarantee and, mainly, data privacy. ExpressVPN, Surfshark and IPVanish are some good options. NordVPN is also very popular, but bear in mind that the service was already hacked in 2018. If you are going to use a free option to handle documents that do not require such a high level of security, prefer the VPN integrated with the Opera browser and CloudFare VPN 220.127.116.11 for mobile.
5. Update computer and applications
Before you start working from home, it is also important to update all equipment and programs to ensure the latest security packages. In Windows 10, the recommendation is to leave Windows Update on automatic and install all items available for download. Also update the browser and Office, which usually has a lot of updates pending in the Mac version.
Always-on Windows Update ensures faster bug fixes Photo: Reproduo / Paulo Alves
It is important to remember that Microsoft no longer supports Windows 7 and Windows XP, which makes systems very dangerous for handling sensitive files. If the PC still runs one of these software, the recommendation is to buy and install Windows 10 as soon as possible or change your computer.
Users who are more afraid of working with sensitive information on a personal computer can use virtual machines for greater security. The virtualization technology offered by Windows or software such as Parallels isolate actions taken within a protected environment and prevent, for example, malware installed on the machine from coming into contact with company documents.
Parallels Desktop one of the best virtual machine solutions on the market Photo: Parallels
The solution is also suitable for small businesses that need to release employees home, but do not trust that their personal PCs have the security necessary to directly access the corporate network.
7. Avoid using USB sticks and external hard drives
Pendrives, external hard drives and other storage devices are entry doors for infections and should be avoided in the home office. The precaution is the same normally adopted within companies: even if the network is secure, it is difficult to protect yourself from malware that has direct access to the victim's computer through the USB port. Antiviruses with active monitoring can help to block any threats, but not using this type of disk is always more appropriate to keep yourself more secure.
Avoid using pendrives when working with your personal computer at home Photo: Paulo Alves / TechTudo
8. Make constant backups in the cloud
The simplest way to avoid losing jobs is to save everything in the cloud constantly. If the company does not have a solution of its own, it is possible to use free or low monthly services to keep your documents always saved online. OneDrive is the most convenient tool for Windows 10 users: instead of saving files in the common document folder, just save everything in the directory of the same name within OneDrive in Windows Explorer.
Use the OneDrive documents folder to keep files always saved in the cloud Photo: Reproduo / Paulo Alves
The service offers 5 GB of free storage and 1 TB in an Office 365 plan for as little as R $ 24 per month. Another option is Google Drive, which offers 15 GB free and 100 GB option for R $ 6.99 and 200 GB for R $ 9.99 monthly. Dropbox costs $ 9.99 per month with 2 TB. Box Drive is one of the few offering unlimited space for a monthly fee of US $ 13.50.
9. Be extra careful with spam and phishing
Hackers will have to adapt to the new home office scenario and adapt attack strategies with more intelligent spam. Expect more and more attempts to deceive victims by email and messages. Turn on the alert when you receive a message from the boss or colleague asking for something unusual, such as your system access password. It is also important to be aware of the classic phishing with an email address that tries to imitate the real. If in doubt, try to confirm requests with the person by phone.
Fake email with doubtful sender can steal sensitive data Photo: Reproduo / Melissa Cruz
10. Enable computer encryption
Enabling encryption is a more drastic measure to ensure that data stored on the computer is not read even if the equipment is stolen. On the MacBook, make sure FileVault is active in the Security and Privacy menu of the settings. On the PC, access the Device Encryption option in the Update and Security menu if it is Windows 10, or look for BitLocker in older versions, such as Windows 7.
Enable encryption to increase the level of protection for computer data Photo: Reproduo / Paulo Alves
It is important to remember that encryption impacts computer performance. Regardless of the operating system, activate the feature only if the machine has enough processing power to handle the encoding of the files.