Remote work comes with its own set of security risks, whether you’re a freelancer or working for a company from home until the pandemic subsides. Many businesses have found that during 2020’s pandemic and the subsequent shift in the way we work, their security shortcomings have been realized. Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility, and when you’re working from home, you’re potentially more vulnerable.

In this guide, we’ll cover eight ways that remote workers can increase their security at home. We’ll cover creating better passwords, protecting your home network, and more. If you’re a remote worker, this guide is a must-read in 2021.

1. Better Passwords

Did you know that most cybersecurity breaches occur because of compromised passwords? The sad truth is that most of us don’t even take our passwords seriously. When’s the last time you created a password that didn’t include your birthday, address, or some other self-identifying information? Sure, it’s great for remembering the password, but when it comes to hacking, these kinds of passwords are the easiest ones to crack. Let’s not forget that things like birthdays, address and telephone records, and more are public records, and can be obtained with a simple Google search in most cases.

The first step to take toward better security is improving your passwords. You can suggest a password manager for teams to your organization, so that everyone can have the same protections for their passwords. Or you can simply get one for yourself, and start managing your passwords more effectively and safely.

2. VPN’s

VPN’s, or virtual private networks, help increase your security by encrypting your web activity. You can hide what you’re doing from potential hackers, and even your ISP can’t track your history when you’re using a VPN. It sounds suspicious, but there’s no reason to not hide what you’re doing. Your internet privacy is your business only, and taking one extra step toward protecting your privacy can help reinforce your security.

You can buy a personal VPN through just about any anti-virus or other internet security service, and most VPN’s only cost a few dollars per month. That’s a small price to pay to protect your identity and your web history.

3. Don’t Share Passwords

It seems odd that this even has to be stated in 2021, but believe it or not, according to this survey, about 34% of Americans share their work passwords with others. And that’s only work passwords! Imagine how many Americans share things like Netflix passwords, email passwords, etc. No matter how you spin it, that’s a disturbing statistic. 

Imagine sharing your Netflix password with your significant other. You break up, they’re bitter about it, and now they have your Netflix password. A rational person probably wouldn’t think much of it, but heartbreak makes people do crazy things. Now, they have your password, and your account is likely linked to your bank account. Are you seeing a problem? Don’t share passwords!

4. Use Your Home Network Or Hotspot

I get it—you’re tired of sitting at home. We all are. The virus has forced us into habits that aren’t exactly fun to endure. For those of us that still visit the local coffee or book shop to work, we’re exposing ourselves to another threat: public WiFi. When you connect to a public network your device will usually say something like “this network isn’t secure.” The dangers of connecting to public WiFi to complete work projects or pass sensitive information can’t be overstated.

Use your home network as much as possible, and when you can’t, connect to your phone’s hotspot. That way, you’re still connected to a private network and aren’t risking it all at your local Starbucks.

5. Don’t Share Data Between Devices

Oops! You’ve forgotten your work laptop. But that’s ok, you can just log in to your Google Docs account from your tablet and work from there…right? Sharing data between devices isn’t good practice, especially if you’re sharing it between personal and work devices. Imagine what would happen if your personal device was compromised, and your work was stolen. You’d be held accountable for an irresponsible decision that could result in serious consequences for the business. The bottom line? Keep work on work computers and devices. 

6. Don’t Leave Devices Laying Around

It’s a good idea to protect your work devices by keeping track of them wherever you go. If you just have to run into a store, don’t leave your laptop in the car. If someone breaks in, you’ve just lost a lot of sensitive information. And, if your laptop is sitting on the car seat, a thief is much more likely to attempt to steal it. 

We’d like to think we can trust our family members and friends, but it’s a risk you don’t want to take when it comes to your livelihood. Don’t leave your devices lying around at home, either.

7. Follow Procedures

Working from home makes it all too easy to fall victim to your own laziness. We’ve all done it—took a random day off, procrastinated until the evening, or simply ignored what needed to be done that day. It takes a lot of personal discipline to work from home successfully, and that means following company procedures, even when there’s no one around to enforce them. Your company trusts you to follow the rules even when your supervisor can’t walk by your desk.

That means you need to follow your company’s cybersecurity procedures, even if they seem inconvenient. It’ll be far more inconvenient if you lose your job! Don’t risk everything to save yourself a few seconds of effort. Follow procedures, and protect yours and the company’s data.

8. Secure Your Home Network

Your home WiFi should already have a password on it, and you shouldn’t share it with just anyone. We have a tendency to freely share our WiFi passwords, even with new guests in our homes. The problem with that is that you don’t really know people. Unfortunately, not everyone has good intentions. That doesn’t mean you should be paranoid about everyone who comes into your home, but maybe setting up a guest network is a good idea instead of exposing your actual home network.