Best practices for remote workers

What steps can employees take to protect themselves – and their employers – when working from home? Our expert sources recommend taking the following steps.

Implement multifactor authentication.

Does your company-issued laptop require multifactor authentication? Multifactor authentication grants access to the device and all software after the employee provides more than one form of identification. 

Anyone can memorize a password or steal a physical device and unlock a computer. Multifactor authentication can prevent hackers from physically accessing your company device. If your company laptop doesn't currently have multifactor authentication enabled, ask your employer about implementing one.

Use strong passwords.

Physical devices aren't your only concern. If a hacker tries to access any sensitive accounts, you want to make it as difficult as possible for them to log in. Using a password manager is a great precaution, as it ensures you are only using strong passwords, like those with special characters, numbers, upper and lowercase letters, etc.

Encrypt your messages.

Data encryption helps protect sensitive information by translating it into a code that only people within your company can access through a secret key or password. Even if scammers intercept your data, they won't be able to interpret it properly. This goes for any messages or information you send, receive or store on your devices.

Invest in antivirus software.

Your employer may provide a recommended application for a company-issued device, but if you use your personal laptop for work, you need to keep your system protected.

"Since many internet providers [offer] free antivirus software, we recommend that our employees use them on their personal laptops," said Venu Gooty, founder of MyBusinessGenie, a provider of small business software solutions.

Don't allow family members to use your work devices.

Gavin Silver, director of operations at Blue Fountain Media, reminded remote workers that the computer they do their work on is for employee use only – it's not the family computer.

"Treat your work-issued laptop, mobile device and sensitive data as if you were sitting in a physical office location," Hay added. "This will help you continuously associate your actions with a security-first and data-aware mentality in mind. For example, in a physical office location … your child [couldn't] use your work-issued mobile device for games or movies. If you think of your laptop and mobile devices as work-only assets, it makes it far easier to control access to sensitive data and remain data-aware."

Keep your physical workspace secure.

While virtual security is important, it's equally important to make sure that your home office is physically secure, said Stark.

"Home offices often contain expensive equipment or even physical files or documents that contain sensitive information, so it's imperative to explore security options," Stark told Business News Daily. "While it's not possible for all home offices to have a scan-to-enter system or a security guard, it's important to add whatever elements of traditional physical security you can."

Depending on your needs, you can look into a DIY home security system or read our recommendations for business video surveillance systems.

Follow company policies to the letter.

Your company likely has clear policies for accessing the company network outside the office. Those guidelines and rules should always be followed, but it's especially important when you're working remotely, said Silver.

"Report any suspicious behavior to IT immediately and follow basic 'computer hygiene' standards such as up-to-date operating systems, antivirus/malware and regular scanning," Silver added.