Cybersecurity has become the top concern for governments and businesses around the world. As our world becomes increasingly digital, our lives are made easier, but we are also more vulnerable. We entrust our personal data to complete strangers every day, and this puts us at tremendous risk.
As a result, it’s critical you do everything you can to protect you and your business from hackers and other cybercriminals. And this is no longer something that only major corporations need to worry about. Small businesses are being targeted more and more each year, largely because they have weaker defense systems, and few have the resources to recover from such an attack.
And for those who work at home, your responsibility is even greater. Without the benefit of a dedicated IT or cybersecurity team, you’re more exposed than ever. It’s important you do all you can to keep your home office as secure as possible, and here are five ways to help you do just that.
1. Set And Use Strong Passwords
Passwords have been around since the beginning of time; nearly all of us have seen movies or TV. shows set in medieval times where a password was required to enter a walled city. Today, passwords serve the same purpose, but instead of being used to fortify a physical barrier, they are used to create a digital defense.
However, too many of us engage in bad password habits. Either we use something absurdly easy to guess, we use the same password for everything, or both. Or we don’t use a password at all! But this just simply cannot be. Not using a password is like leaving the front gate to your walled city wide open. And using one that’s too easy defeats the purpose of having a password in the first place.
Make sure to set and use strong, unique passwords for the following things in your home office:
- Your computers. It’s a pain to have to log in every time, but if you don’t use a password than you’re just exposing yourself to unnecessary risk.
- Your phones. Most of us do this anyway, but don’t be like Kanye and use 000000, as this is way to easy for someone to guess
- Important folders. If you have document folders that contain sensitive information, then change the settings on your computer so that they can only be accessed with a password.
- Your WiFi. If a hacker can get onto your WiFi network, then it’s much easier for them to access your other devices using that connection. Most internet service providers will help you set up security protocols, but if they don’t, or if you’re not satisfied with their security offering, then consider switching to another provider.
2. Use a Password Manager
While it’s super important to use passwords wherever you can, it’s also critical you don’t use the same password for everything. This way, if someone does manage to learn a password, they won’t have access to each and every account you have.
However, if you’re like most of us, then the thought of using a different password for each account is simply terrifying. How can we ever hope to remember all of them? Well, it turns out you don’t need to. Password managers, such as LastPass, DashLane and RoboForm will all manage passwords for you in a safe and secure way.
They work by storing your password information in a personalized, secure “vault,” which only you can access. This way, when you go to log into a site, you don’t need to remember your password, which makes it easier to use stronger, harder to guess passwords. And because these managers encrypt all your passwords inside their “vault,” you don’t need to worry about this central location being compromised.
3. Keep Up-to-Date
Whether it’s your operating system, antivirus software or WordPress, make sure to keep all the software you use up-to-date. Developers are working around the clock to the identify any holes in their products’ defenses, and when they find one and fix it, they send it out in an update, but it’s up to you to incorporate these changes.
Consider setting up a day during the week to check for updates, such as Friday afternoon. It’s true that installing these can sometimes take time, especially if multiple reboots are needed, so make sure you’re doing it at a point in the day or week where you don’t need to use your computer, as this will make it easier to put up with the inconvenience of updating.
4. Lock Up
When we talk about cybersecurity, we tend to spend a lot of time talking about all the digital practices you need to engage in to stay safe. But this causes us to overlook other risks, such as someone stealing your computer or phone.
Of course, if this does happen, then you should still be okay if you’ve managed to secure your devices. But the best thing to do is take all possible steps to ensure this doesn’t happen. So if you haven’t already, then install a lock on your office door, and make sure to use it when you’re not in there working. Furthermore, consider investing in a fireproof lock box to store important documents.
5. Shred Important Documents
While it’s true we live in a digital world, paper still has a place. And many of the paper documents we do receive are filled with sensitive information. Get into the habit of shredding any and all documents you get that have even an inkling of your personal information on them. This might seem excessive at first, but all it takes is a bill or statement falling into the wrong hands to compromise an account and give a hacker access to all of your personal information.
Stay Safe Out There
It’s true that cybercrime is on the rise. But this doesn’t mean you will automatically be a victim. Hackers want easy targets that will give them a good return on the time spent acquiring valuable information. So make sure to follow the steps outlined here to make it harder for people to get at your most sacred and sensitive digital information.
About the Author: Kevin Conner is the founder of a lead generation and customer acquisition service Many of his clients are eCommerce companies, so Kevin has had first-hand experience with the importance of cybersecurity, something he likes to share with other entrepreneurs and business leaders whenever he can.