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5 Ways Successful Remote Work Relies on Online Security

Working from home is an ideal situation for many people. You get the comforts of your living room, unlimited tea breaks, and cozy clothes, combined with an income from a steady job.

But remote work also comes with security risks that can leave you and your employer open to attack. Here are five ways remote work relies on online security.

1. VPNs Keep Your Communications Secure

chatting on a traditional cord phone

Regardless what field you work in, communication is vital. You need to be able to take and send assignments, give feedback on others’ work, and have a general idea of who’s supposed to be doing what and when.

In a physical office, you can manage most communication using physical tools such as whiteboards, or by talking to colleagues in person. In a remote work scenario, this isn’t possible.

Whether you discuss business with your bosses and peers over email, or use specific tools to overcome remote work communication challenges, you need to know that all communication channels are secure and protected against interception or hacking attempts. This includes email, instant messaging, and video conferencing platforms.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) set up by your employer means that the machine you use at home is connected to the same network as the devices that are physically in the office building, making it difficult for attackers to perform a Man-in-the-Middle attack. You can access files remotely, as if they were on your own machine, so make sure you choose the right VPN for you.

2. Strong Passwords Improve Security

Finger, padlock, devices, and icons illustrating online security

Passwords are the weak point of any secure system. Ideally, a strong password should be easy to remember and impossible to guess. It also needs to be changed often enough so automated cracking techniques don’t have sufficient time to decrypt it.

If attackers know your login credentials, they can use them to access your work network, and deploy malware and steal data. It’s easy to find out how strong your password is, and there are free online tools you can use to create strong passwords.

While password managers can improve your online security by generating and storing strong, unguessable passwords for every site you log into, it’s a mistake to put too much faith in them as password managers aren’t always as safe as you think.

If an attacker manages to get hold of and decrypt your password vault—the consequences can be disastrous.

3. Passwordless Login Is Even Better

woman working in an art studio using a phone

All passwords can be broken eventually, and it’s now common to use passwordless logins to better secure devices and networks.

While it might seem counterintuitive to be able to log in without a password, most passwordless login solutions use other ways to confirm your identity. This can be biometric scanning, software tokens, hardware keys, or multifactor authentication. Often login systems require two or more of these. There are pros and cons of passwordless authentication, but it’s becoming more common.

Even Google offers passkeys as an alternative method to log into your account.

4. Regular Software Updates Prevent Vulnerabilities

If you’re working from home, you’re probably accessing a remote file server from your own machine, and it’s important that you keep it up to date.

Different software versions have different capabilities, and to ensure compatibility, you should make sure you’re using the exact same version as you would in the office.

Additionally, older versions of software may contain vulnerabilities that have been addressed in later versions.

While it may be tempting to produce documents using an ancient cracked version of Microsoft Office 2007, it’s likely to contain unpatched vulnerabilities that could make it easy for an attacker to breach your employer’s network. Cracked software can be used to get infect your machine with malware too.

5. Avoid Public Wi-Fi Hotspots to Minimize Risks

guy in a park relaxing in front of screen

Remote working doesn’t necessarily mean that you work from home, and it’s tempting to hang out in a café, or while dangling your feet in the water at a remote beach.

It’s even more tempting if these locations have free public Wi-Fi, so you don’t need to use your own mobile data.

But public Wi-Fi hotspots are a well-known security risk, especially if you’re accessing secure and confidential data.

A VPN should keep you safe from Man-in-the-Middle, packet sniffing, and Evil Twin attacks, but you’re still vulnerable to people simply looking over your shoulder.

Good Security Practices Make Remote Work Possible

By employing some basic security measures, you can keep both you and your employer safe while you stay productive wherever you are.

Maintaining discipline while working at home can be difficult, so it may be worthwhile setting up a home office to help you work productively from home.


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