By August 13, 2012 Read More →

Computer security when working from home

Get your computer security right when working from home.

Computer security when working from homeChris Pudney and Gihan Perera are the authors of the book Out of Office: Using the Internet for Greater Freedom in Your Work Life. Their guest post today has some important advice on computer security and keeping safe online:

Office workers usually have an IT department that takes care of computer security, but if you work from home that responsibility rests with you.

Here are eight things to consider:

1. Internet access: Secure your Wi-Fi connection and change the access-point’s administrator password.

2. Firewall software: install good firewall software, which acts as a “gatekeeper” between your computer and the rest of the Internet. When a program asks for access to use the Internet, don’t automatically grant it; think first.

3. Passwords: choose strong passwords that are at least eight characters long and contain a mixture of letters, digits and punctuation. Use different passwords for different services.
If you have difficulty remembering your passwords use password wallet software, which stores your passwords for you and automatically recalls them as needed.

4. Operating system updates: ensure your operating system automatically checks for updates, and downloads and installs them as needed.

5. Anti-virus software: scan e-mail attachments and Web downloads to ensure they don’t conceal any malicious content (viruses). Configure your anti-virus software to automatically update itself.

6. Backups: Modern backup systems are fast, cheap and automatic so use them! Ideally, your backups should be stored “off-site”, which can be achieved automatically by using an online backup service. This stores your backups in the Cloud.
You can never be too careful, so consider multiple backups, e.g. continuous online backups, daily backups to an external hard-drive, and monthly backups to DVD.

7. Disaster prevention: protect yourself from power failures or spikes. At the very least, fit surge protectors to delicate and valuable equipment. Better still, invest in an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) which is, in effect, a large battery, giving you time to shut down equipment safely after a power failure.

8. You are the weakest link: Many Internet scams don’t rely on technology; they rely on human gullibility (and greed).
So-called “phishing’ scams attempt to fool you into visiting fake Web sites, with the aim of tricking you into providing your account details. Social media sites are also potentially dangerous due to the false sense of security that arises from being among “friends”. Avoid sharing personal and confidential information with strangers.

Be vigilant and take responsibility for your actions. Don’t let the technological measures lull you into a false sense of security! Immerse yourself more – not less – in Internet culture, so it becomes familiar to you.

Above all, use common sense, just as you would in the physical world.

Posted in: Technology

14 Comments on "Computer security when working from home"

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  1. Hi Judy,
    I remember being gullible and was a victim of a scam wherein I received a notification supposedly from my email provider that I needed to change my password because of one reason or another which I don’t remember now.

    So I immediately clicked on the link and accessed my email and I noticed that after that I began receiving spam emails. I realized my mistake and took some steps to correct it.

    You’re right about us being the weakest link and we should always be aware of the latest scams so that we can take steps to protect ourselves.

  2. Reese says:

    I had the biggest fright of my life almost three months ago. I used to have a single password for everything with a slight variation in order to meet requirements. Until one day I could no longer log in to my email. When I finally was able to log in I saw that somebody from Latin America hacked my account to send spam emails to my contacts. I was scared because my financial accounts were linked to that email and they all had the same password. Thankfully all he/she did was send that spammy email link. After that, I changed passwords and made sure it was harder to crack and have a different one for each account.