Whether you have an internal IT Dept, an Outsourced IT Team, or a person you always call when you get stuck, this new WFH scenario presents a new set of challenges.

Today we are going to go over 3 critical areas that you can address that will reduce the security risk of WFH and possibly extend the lifespan of your favorite IT person.

RemoteSecurityis not a new discipline in the IT field. With careful planning and investment into infrastructure and tools AND TRAINING in order to minimize (not eliminate) the risks to corporate networks and company data.

For most of us, there was no warning that our 90% of entire society would be thrust into a WFH scenario which means careful planning is playing catch-up.

– Cybercrime cost businesses over $2 TRILLION in 2019 (estimated to be $6T in 2021) -it’s a very lucrative business for bad guys
– 39 seconds is how often a data breach occurs – 24% are human error
– 90% of all malware comes from email Source: VARONIS.COM –https://www.varonis.com/blog/data-breach-statistics/

Since none of us want to be the one to cause the estimated $1.2M cost of a data breach, these are the 3 critical areas YOU can manage.

1. Equipment (using personal computer)
2. Network (using your personal network)
3. Environment (physical space)

As a solopreneur or small business owner your personal and work computers are likely one in the same, but for most employees merging your personal and professional lives are rarely a good idea.

While others may appreciate you accidentally leaving your Grandmother’s secret Banana Bread recipe on the shared drive, you definitely don’t want anyone else seeing the pictures from the Bachelorette Party in Ocean City.

Keep in mind that You may have signed a document that is part of your Employee Handbook or Acceptable Use Policy that gives the company the right to access ANY device that has company data on it. You could be putting yourself in a situation where your employer (or the FBI) may have right to confiscate your device to “check it for company data.”

Yes, I am trying to scare you a little bitso you don’t blow this off.

Passwords

1. Password protect your PC -this may sound unnecessary, but it isn’t. If you have toanswer for a data breach, the 2ndquestion they are going to ask you is if your PC was password protected – It also prevents someone else (roommate, kid, cat) from accidentally damaging a network or a document

2. Have a Password Manager
– Saving it in your Browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari) is not secure.
– Password Managers such as 1Password, LastPass, DashLane, OneLogin all use multiple levels of encryption to prevent websites or applications from stealing all your passwords many of them have free versions

3. 2FA

Patches

1. Operating System -Windows/Mac
– Mac -Apple/About/Software Update
– Windows-Windows Key/type Update/Check for Updates Note about Win7 is no longer getting updates. You should be on Win10

2. AntiVirus-do you have AV? Is it up to date? -yes, even Mac’s

Programs

1. Remove Unnecessary or Risky applications
– Coupon add-ons
– WeatherBug
– Anything that claims to “speed up your PC”
– Bloatware (term used to describe the software that is bundled/preinstalled by the manufacturer)
– Second AV program -more is not always better -they will fight each other

2. Do not have personal applications open while working on company data
– Email -if you click on something malicious in your personal email it could infect the company data (ransomware)
– Bank -if there is something malicious on your company network, it will likely be attempting to collect data or lock up it up
– Social Media
– Do not work on personal stuff (documents) during work time -so you don’t accidentally save your personal stuff on the work network or work files on your personal machine

We are going to use the analogy of a floor in a hotel as a computer network.

The hallway is the network.

Each room in that hallway is a program/application on your computer with a door to access the network. At any given time multiple people are in the hallway at the same time without an issue, but you don’t want to be carrying your extremely important stack of papers down the hallway the same time as the sketchy guy, the pickpocket, or the boy band and the paparazzi.

So we want to make sure the doors are closed/locked from the hallway! We want to limit as many connections to your network as we can. Keep in mind that each device on your network (Nest thermostat, Ring Doorbell, Alexa, AppleTV) is ANOTHER hallway with its own set of doors.

We are going to make 2 assumptions:

1. That your company has NOT provided you with a VPN connection to the work environment. If they have, there are still some valid recommendations here for your home network.

2. That you aren’t staying in a sketchy hotel (you are not on a sketchy network).
– Borrowing a neighbor’s wifiis NOT safe.
– Using a guest network is NOT safe.
– Using a public network (Hotel, Starbucks, Panera, County Library) is not safe
– IF YOU HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE, you should subscribe to a VPN service a) ExpressVPN b) NordVPN c) SurfShark d) VPN Unlimited – This does not completely protect you from being seen in the hallway, but it disguises you and your data

TO SECURE YOUR NETWORK -if you are using your own personal network (home wifi or wired)

1. LOCK IT -Make sure your wifipassword is
– Complex -There are instructions for setting/changing wifi passwords on your ISP support website (Verizon, Comcast, Cox, etc)
– Secure -not being shared with the sketchy gun dealer terrorist boy band neighbor
– If you are unsure about either of these -You might want to consider changing the wifipassword just to give a reset to everything -understand that it will disconnect EVERYTHING that is currently connected to your network so make sure you have instructions for connecting the devices you want to reconnect
– Make sure the other devices on your network are also secure – You should also be aware of the all the devices using your network (Alexa, Ring Doorbell, SmartTv, daughter’s laptop, flux capacitor)

2. HIDE IT -Consider hiding your SSID – The instructions are online for hiding your SSID –this will prevent others from automatically finding the network and attempting to connect to it – You will still be able to join devices to your networkbut you will need to know the name of it

Minimizing the Risks of working in home environment

a) Dedicated workspace if you can
b) Lock your computer when you walk away from it (close the laptop) – To prevent anyone from “borrowing it for a second to lookup something” – To prevent the dog from hitting a key when they jump up to steal your muffin
c) Use a surge protector when connected to power/charging – Power at your residence may be dirty
d) Try to limit eating/drinking around your computer – This is your lifeline to the outside world -you have to protect it
e) Put it away at mealtime
– To prevent spillage
– To prevent it from getting knocked to the floor
– To prevent something being set on top of it.

3 Areas that you CAN CONTROL when working from home

1. Equipment -Passwords, Patches, Programs

2. Network -Lock it, Hide it

3. Environment -Keep it away, Put it away

4. Your favorite IT person/team are considered Essential and are working. Please know that any effort to make things more secure is going to be greatly appreciated.

Partnerd Group
Jason Matchett
Owner/President
Phone: (703) 314-1716
Email: Jason.Matchett@partnerdsolutions.com