Working from home may be required by your organization in an abundance of caution in the best interest of everyone’s health and safety. At BPI, we want to do whatever we can to help Michigan organizations support, train and secure their remote workforce.

We know that working from home can be new and overwhelming, and most of us are already going through a great deal of stress and change. Below are five simple steps to working from home securely. The best part is all of these steps not only help secure your work, but they will make you and your family far more safe as you create a cybersecure home.

You

First and foremost, technology alone cannot fully protect you – you are the best defense. Attackers have learned that the easiest way to get what they want is to target you personally, rather than your computer or other devices. If they want your password, work data or control of your computer, they’ll attempt to trick you into giving it to them, often by creating a sense of urgency. For example, they can call you pretending to be the IT Department and claim that your computer is infected. Or perhaps they send you an email warning that a package could not be delivered, fooling you into clicking on a malicious link. The most common indicators of a social engineering attack include:

  • Someone creating a tremendous sense of urgency, often through fear, intimidation, a crisis or an important deadline.
  • Pressure to bypass or ignore security policies or procedures, or an offer too good to be true.
  • A message from a friend or co-worker in which the signature, tone of voice or wording does not sound like them.

Your Home Network

Almost every home network starts with a wireless (often called Wi-Fi) network. This is what enables all of your devices to connect to the Internet. Most home wireless networks are controlled by your Internet router or a separate, dedicated wireless access point. Both work in the same way: by broadcasting wireless signals to which home devices connect. This means securing your wireless network is a key part of protecting your home. We recommend the following steps to secure it:

  • Change the default administrator password: The administrator account is what allows you to configure the settings for your wireless network. An attacker can easily discover the default password that the manufacturer has provided.
  • Allow only people that you trust to use your network. Do this by requiring a password for anyone to connect to your wireless network. It will encrypt their activity once they are connected.
  • Make passwords strong: The passwords people use to connect to your wireless network must be different from the administrator password. Remember, you only need to enter the password once for each of your devices, as they store and remember the password.

Passwords

When a site asks you to create a password, create a strong password: the more characters it has, the stronger it is. Using a memorable passphrase is one of the simplest ways to ensure that you have a strong password. A passphrase is nothing more than a password made up of multiple words that you can easily remember, such as “working from home.” Using a unique passphrase means using a different one for each device or online account. This way if one password is compromised, all of your other accounts and devices are still safe.

Can’t remember all those passwords? That’s ok! Use a password manager, which is a specialized program that securely stores all your passphrases in an encrypted format.

Finally, enable two-step verification (also called two-factor or multi-factor authentication) whenever possible. It uses your password, but also adds a second step, such as a code sent to your smartphone or an app that generates the code for you. Two-step verification is probably the most important step you can take to protect your online accounts and it’s much easier than it sounds.

Need help setting up a password manager or two-factor authentication? Ask us! Call, email, or submit a ticket to your IT Department Help Desk.

Updates

Make sure all your computers, phones, programs, and apps are running the latest version and kept up to date automatically.

Attackers are constantly looking for new vulnerabilities in the software your devices use. When they discover vulnerabilities, they use special programs to exploit them and hack into the devices you are using. Meanwhile, the companies that created the software for these devices are hard at work fixing them by releasing updates. By ensuring your computers and mobile devices install these updates promptly, you make it much harder for someone to hack you. To stay current, simply enable automatic updating whenever possible. This rule applies to almost any technology connected to a network, including not only your work devices but Internet-connected TV’s, baby monitors, security cameras, home routers, gaming consoles or even your car.

Not sure how to tell if your devices are up to date? Ask us! Call, email, or submit a ticket to your IT Department Help Desk.

Kids & Guest Users

Make sure kids and guests understand they cannot use your work computer or devices. They could accidentally erase or modify information, or worse, infect the device. Your organization may have more strict requirements in a security policy to prevent unauthorized access.

We’re Here For You

Today organizations across Michigan are transitioning their workforce to work from home. This can be a challenge as many organizations lack the policies, technology and training to secure a remote workforce. For most leaders, managing an entirely remote workforce is completely new. BPI helps develop the processes, policies and procedures that enable employees to work from home safely and securely. We understand that this is a unique situation and we want to do everything we can to help.