Remote work has shifted the mindset away from the old style of employment, showing up to the office every day. However, it seems that more businesses are starting to grab back some of the traditional practice of showing up to the office. The timing is probably helping, as the northern hemisphere is starting to warm up, making the commute to an office slightly more enjoyable. However, as we move towards an in-office presence, it may make us more relaxed about some of the rules of remote working. As we approach the summer months, it’s an excellent time to review some security best practices around working remotely and traveling.
Secure Your Home Office
There are many resources out there of good advice about picking a space that is ergonomically comfortable and where you can minimize distraction, but there are some security considerations as well. Here are some tips on how to pick a secure workspace:
- Pick a space that is private.
- Do not allow family or friends to use your work devices.
- Do not use your work devices for personal use.
- Lock your device when you must step away.
Stay In Communication
Stay connected with your IT team and security department, as they may have special instructions or new tools available for you. If you suspect that your device or your data has been compromised in any way, notify them immediately so they can investigate and take steps to prevent unnecessary damage.
- Resist the temptation to use unapproved tools or to store data outside of company resources. If you need something you do not have to get your job done, please ask your IT department.
- Be alert for phishing emails or phone calls. Criminals try to take advantage of fear and uncertainty by sending emails that appear to be from authorities or company officers, trying to lure you into clicking on malicious links or revealing your confidential information.
- Never click an attachment you were not expecting, even if it appears to be from somebody you know. It is always best to check back with that person to make sure the attachment is legitimate before you open it.
Tips For Travelers
When you are out on personal travel, leave your company devices at home if your company allows you to be fully “off the clock.” Stored the devices in a safe place. This will reduce your security risks.
Before You Go
- Update your mobile software. Treat your mobile device like your home or work computer. Keep your operating system software and apps updated, which will improve your device’s ability to defend against malware.
- Back up your information. Back up your contacts, photos, videos and other mobile device data to another device or cloud service.
- Keep it locked. Get into the habit of locking your devices when you are using them. Even if you only step away for a few minutes, that is enough time for someone to steal or destroy your information. Always use strong PINs and passwords.
While You Are There
- Stop auto-connecting. Disable remote connectivity and Bluetooth. Some devices will automatically seek and connect to available wireless networks. Bluetooth enables your device to connect wirelessly with other devices, such as headphones or automobile infotainment systems. Disable these features so that you only connect to wireless and Bluetooth networks when you want to. This will also increase your battery life, as the device will not waste energy trying to find a connection.
- Think before you connect. Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot – like on an airplane, or in an airport or coffee shop – be sure to confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network
is legitimate. Do not conduct sensitive activities, such as online shopping, banking, or sensitive work using a public wireless network. Your mobile network connection is more secure than using a public wireless network.
- Think before you click. Use caution when downloading or clicking on any unknown links. Delete emails that are suspicious or are from unknown sources. Review and understand the details of an application before installation.
- Guard your mobile device. To prevent theft and unauthorized access or loss of sensitive information, never leave your mobile devices–including any USB or external storage devices–unattended in a public place. Keep your devices secured in taxis, airports, on airplanes, and in your hotel room.
Common Cybersecurity Threats While Traveling
- Unsecured wireless networks. While public wireless networks provide great convenience,
allowing people to connect to the Internet from anywhere, they are unsecured and
can allow cyber criminals access to your Internet-enabled devices.
- Publicly accessible computers. Hotel business centers, libraries, and cyber-cafes provide
computers and charging stations that anyone can use. However, travelers cannot trust that these computers and charging stations are secure. They may not be running the latest operating systems or have updated anti-malware software. Cybercriminals may have infected these machines with malicious software.
- Physical theft of devices. Thieves often target travelers. Mealtimes are optimum times for thieves to check hotel rooms for unattended laptops. If you are attending a conference
or trade show, be alert — these venues offer thieves a wider selection of devices that are likely to contain sensitive information, and the conference sessions offer more opportunities for thieves to access guest rooms.
Now that work environments are getting back to the way they once were; it’s important to keep the security mindset sharp when you are not in the office. If you have time off this summer, be sure to review your digital security before, as well as during your travels.
Safe travels, and safe computing!