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How to Secure Your Remote Work Environment
During the onset of COVID-19, many advisors began working from home. This was a temporary solution to protect themselves and others – but for some advisors, they have decided that working from home may be a permanent change. If you are one of the many who have decided to make your home your permanent workplace, it is vital that you ensure your remote work environment is secure.
Here are a few ways to stay vigilant and secure when working from home.
- Invest in a Work ONLY PC or Laptop
One of the easiest ways to stay diligent and protect yourself and your clients’ personally identifiable information (PII) is never to use your work PC or laptop for personal use. A work PC should not be used to access a private email account such as Yahoo or Gmail, shop or purchase items online, or log into non-work-related sites. Most importantly, your work PC should never be used by anyone else in your home. Keep all your activity on your work PC professional and private.
- Do Not Use a Public Internet Connection without a VPN
When you work remotely, there may be times where you need to use a public internet connection, like at a coffee shop or library. However, because anyone can access a public network, your information is not private and the data you transmit is more vulnerable to attack.
If you are going to us a public internet connection, make sure you use a virtual private network (VPN) service. VPNs mask your IP address and encrypt any data you transmit over the internet, meaning your connection is more private and secure.
- Ensure Your PC and Laptop Have Full Disc Encryption
With full disc encryption technology, all the data stored on your PC or laptop’s hard drive is encrypted. This means that if your computer is ever lost or stolen and someone attempts to pull out the hard drive, they will not be able to access your data.
If you are using a Mac, be sure to enable FileVault, Apple’s full disc data encryption feature. To learn how to turn on FileVault, click here.
- Enable Firewall, Anti-Spyware, and Anti-Malware
It is easy to maintain these security systems with Windows 10, which has Windows Security pre-installed. Windows Security provides a built-in firewall, protects users against spyware, and offers anti-malware with Microsoft Defender Antivirus. Older versions of Windows do not have these services built in so, should consider upgrading to Windows 10 or using another anti-malware product.
For more information about customizing the features available with Windows Security, visit here.
- Get Serious About Password Protection
If you use a variety of websites and programs, it may be tempting to use the same passwords for everything and re-use old passwords. Doing this can make your and your clients’ data vulnerable. If hackers collect login details for one website you use and all your login details are the same, then that information can be used to break into all your accounts. To avoid this, create new passwords regularly and use different passwords for accounts with access to PII.
Your passwords should be at least eight characters in length, contain a combination of lower- and upper-case letters and other characters. Do not use common words or phrases unless you are combining them with other random words.
- Stay Alert
Hackers are always devising new phishing ploys. Emails can appear to be from customer service departments at companies you recognize. Always carefully examine the email address of the sender. It may contain the name of the company and look legitimate, but if it is not from the official company domain such as @apple.com or @amazon.com, BEWARE.
Setting up your remote office and keeping track of all these details by yourself can be difficult,but Financial Advocates can help. Our Information Technology team can assist you with making your home office secure, including selecting hardware and software and ensuring all necessary security standards and features are enabled. Click here to learn more about our technology services or contact our IT staff at IT@financialadvocates.com.