Protecting Your WFH Environment: Keeping Yourself Safe

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Vox recently presented a good primer on what to do to secure your work from home (WFH) environment during this pandemic.  As many have experienced, during their hastily required move from the very secure corporate networks to the underwhelmingly secured home network, their personal and home equipment is often woefully inadequate to properly secure the confidential files that they must work from at home.  While many companies will provide the necessary tools such as corporate laptops with VPN access to their corporate networks, many more companies were caught unprepared and are relying on their employees working on their own personal equipment to get their jobs done.  Combine this situation with hacking activity that has more than doubled, and there is a recipe for disaster just waiting to happen.

So, how do these WFH employees protect themselves in their current home office environment?  Distilling the suggestions in the Vox article and adding some of our own, the following are some good points and advice for how to protect yourself and your confidential information while working from a less than secure environment:

1.  Make sure you have strong passwords and use different passwords for each account.  Use two-factor authentication wherever it is offered.  Make sure you are NOT using any default passwords that any of your equipment came with.

2.  Keep current on software updates as these often provide security patches for any new vulnerabilities.  Set up automatic updates where possible.

3.  Be wary of Freeware, especially when it comes to handling sensitive and confidential information.  As we’ve seen with some free teleconference services, they often come with little or no security.

4.  Separate your work and personal life as much as possible.  If provided with a work device, don’t use that for personal activities as it might open up the work devices to security threats depending on the sites you may visit on personal time.

5.  Consider buying security software such as an antivirus program or utilize some secure browser extensions such as adblockers, etc..  While your office network may have afforded you a wide variety of expensive security services such as web and URL Filters, Firewalls, Anti-malware, sandboxes, network traffic analyzers, NGFW, etc., on home networks, it is rare to even see a basic firewall in place.

6.  Be more aware of the potential for phishing attacks and always be wary of whom you are receiving emails and text messages from as this is the prime vector of attack for tricking people into clicking on links that lead to malicious sites or malware.  During the pandemic, phishing attacks have grown exponentially.  This is especially relevant for mobile devices where malicious texts and emails are very readily clicked on.

7.  Also be aware of other IoT devices such as baby monitors, security cameras, personal assistant devices (i.e. Google Home, Amazon Alexa, etc.) that may be listening in and may accidentally pick up confidential information.  Consider turning off microphones and covering cameras while you are doing work.

8.  Utilize a VPN, if possible, to connect to work servers.  This can provide a private connection over public and unsecured networks.  HOWEVER, be aware that VPN usage has surged during this pandemic, leading to a marked increase in attacks on VPNs.  VPNs, although they provide a level of security, are not foolproof.  Make sure that you use a reputable VPN provider.  As an addendum to this point, you can further protect yourself while utilizing a VPN through the addition of the Wedge Absolute Real-time Protection (WedgeARP) Secure Home Office solution.  WedgeARP SHO provides an additional layer of real-time threat protection to your network and web usage that can detect and BLOCK known and unknown (never-before-seen) malware in real-time before it can breach your devices.

While the above is not an exhaustive list, it is a good start to securing your home office environment.  By doing a combination of the suggestions, you can layer your level of security and increase the overall effectiveness of your security.  Security experts always recommend stacking or layering security so that there are redundancies within the system.  Having several safeguards in place makes it more difficult for hackers and undesirable malware from breaching your home office environment.

To find out more about how WedgeARP Secure Home Office can provide you real-time protection against malware and other threats, contact our team at:  The real-time detection and blocking of malware (i.e. the Detect and Block approach) provides the underpinnings of a good WFH security system by keeping all malware out of the network BEFORE it can do any harm.

About Wedge Chief Scientist

Husam Kinawi, Chief Scientist Dr. Kinawi has a PhD and MSc in Computer Science from the Universities of Calgary, Canada and London, UK. In 1997, he co-founded Mpower Technologies Inc., a wireless telecommunications software company. In 1999, Dr. Kinawi co-founded (NASDAQ: AIQT), a Boston-based e-Business applications firm. Dr. Kinawi has over seventeen years of research and development experience working with industry leaders such as Newbridge (Alcatel), Siemens, United Technologies, and Apple in the areas of distributed information systems, embedded applications and wireless Internet solutions. Dr. Kinawi has also spoken at several major conferences, published several research papers, and is the holder of several patents in the area of mobile and wireless devices.
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