With work-from-home jobs now more popular than ever, it is important to ensure your private data is protected and kept private from those who wish to cause harm. In this blog, I explore five ways to ensure your sensitive data is protected while working remotely.
1. Encrypt Your Data
First and foremost, it is important that you ensure your sensitive personal information and work-related data is kept private using encryption. Encryption is a necessary step to ensure those with negative intentions cannot readily access and monitor your private data. Encryption scrambles the information you send over the internet into a code so that others cannot access it. Specific websites can be encrypted so that any information you share within that site is protected. This is a good step to take for work-specific websites and software programs. You should also be sure that any email you send is encrypted. A simple way to do this within an individual email is to go to File > Properties, then click Security Settings, and then select “Encrypt message contents and attachments”.
2. Avoid Public Wifi
A private and encrypted wifi network is ideal, however, when working remotely we cannot always ensure we are within reach of our protected network. If you are working on the go, you might find yourself in a coffee shop, an airport, and a multitude of other public spaces with unprotected wifi networks. In these instances, you should be sure you are using the official wifi network of whichever space you are in. For instance, if you are working from a coffee shop, ask an employee for their network and password. Be sure you are connecting only to that network. To further ensure your data’s safety, you should check that your sharing preferences are turned off.
A personal hotspot is perhaps the safest way to ensure your data is protected while working in a public space. Setting up your hotspot is simple and it will allow you to avoid any potential hackers that find their way into public wifi networks.
3. Separate Work from Personal
Keeping your personal and work data separate is a good idea for a variety of reasons. It helps you avoid embarrassing mistakes when potentially mixing up personal and business emails, it helps with organization, and it can help you avoid any legal risks. Failing to keep business and personal work separate also presents a security risk. When you mix business tasks with personal tasks, business data that might otherwise be protected under your company’s security policy can become exposed. When employees use personal email accounts to conduct business, for example, it means that the company’s data is now being stored on a personal mail server, which is outside the scope of the company’s security measures. For these reasons, it is best to avoid mixing business and personal work. The simple solution: keep one computer or laptop for business work and another for personal work.
4. Keep Your Screen Private
When working remotely in a public space, such as an airport, coffee shop, or doctor’s office, be aware of sightlines to your computer screen. You never know who might be watching. This particularly applies to employees who work with highly-sensitive personal information, such as medical or financial data.
5. Use a VPN
A highly effective solution for ensuring your private data is kept private is to invest in a reliable VPN (virtual private network). VPNs offer an additional layer of security when you are working on a public wifi network. VPNs establish a secure, encrypted connection between your computer and a private server, which effectively hides your internet traffic. VPNs are easy to set up and are ideal for when you need to access particularly secure information through your remote setup.
In addition to utilizing a VPN, if you are working in an area with a public phone charging station, you should invest in a USB data blocker. Even when charging your phone for a few minutes, you are exposing your data to potential harm. A USB data blocker protects your data while you change your phone and even prevents viruses from corrupting your data.
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Contact Mark Fazio: If you enjoyed this blog and are interested in connecting directly with me, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 412-343-6300 x103.