Working Online: Protecting Your Identity And Your Work
Working from home is every introvert’s dream. Not only does it take away the pressure of having to deal with your co-workers in person, it’s cheaper and you will get a lot more done! Of course, working from home–whether it’s running your own business or telecommuting as an employee–does present some unique challenges. Most notably, you have to be more vigilant about protecting your work and your identity than you do when you work out of someone else’s company space.
Keeping Private Data Private
Whether you are working as an employee or are building your own business, it is incredibly important that you not leave proprietary information digitally lying around. For example, don’t keep financial information in an easily accessible cloud folder or on a computer without malware and hacking protection. Instead, keep important documents on a SecureUSB that you only plug into your device when you absolutely have to. This way, even if someone does break in and take a stroll through your files they won’t find anything. And, of course, having a backup of your backup is always a good idea.
Just Say No to BYOD
If you are telecommuting as someone else’s employee, ask that your employer provides the machine on which you will be doing your work. Supplying your own computer opens up your personal information to whatever prying eyes might be trying to take advantage of your employer…or that one coworker who isn’t exactly subtle about wanting your job. If your employer is hesitant, remind them that there are many advantages to their providing you with the computers and devices you’ll need for work. For instance, they can install monitoring software that will track whatever you do while using that device (allowing them to keep tabs on your productivity). They can also decide which malware protection and software will be downloaded. They won’t have that level of control if you’re using your personal device!
Protecting Personal Devices
If you lose that battle with your employer or if you are building your own business, you will need to take some extra steps to protect your company as well as your personal information. Basic malware protection isn’t going to be enough. Here are some extra steps you can take:
Email Encryption: encrypting your email doesn’t have to be complicated or require extensive knowledge of coding like it used to. Today there are a bunch of different plugins that you can download and install that will do all of that work for you. Obviously, if you want to learn the code yourself, that’s great! But if your brain doesn’t speak code, a plugin will work just fine.
File Encryption: In addition to encrypting your communications, you should also use drive and file encryption to thwart any jerks who are able to skirt your malware protection protocols. File encryption is usually built into most computing these days but if you want to add some extra protection, using independent encryption is better. These codes are updated far more frequently than built in encryption is updated by manufacturers.
Password Protection: You likely already know the basic rules of creating a really good password. And you also likely already know that you need to create multiple passwords and you need to change them often. Doing this can eat up a lot of your time and still leaves you slightly vulnerable. A better option is to use a password protection program that uses two-factor authorization for use. This way you don’t have to remember or manually enter your passwords and the two-factor authorization will prevent data breaches from compromising your information.
Two Factor Authorization: Speaking of two-factor authorization, turn on this feature on every account that offers it. Two-factor authorization, or TFA, is where an account requires a second form of authorization from you before it will allow you or anyone else access to an account. This second form of authorization might be a code that gets sent to your cell phone via text. Sometimes it will be a regenerating code that you access via a key like Google Authenticator. Some companies will even send you physical “keys” that you plug into your USB ports. Not only does TFA keep your accounts secure, it will let you know immediately if someone is trying to access those accounts without your permission.
Remember, working from home has a lot of perks but that doesn’t mean that you can be complacent when it comes to your privacy and proprietary data. Use the tips we’ve shared here to make sure you’re as safe as possible and that sensitive information doesn’t fall into nefarious hands.
Ashley Andrews is an entrepreneur and blogger. She now lives in San Diego, CA and is happily self-employed. She enjoys writing about anything that catches her interest, especially business and entrepreneurship.
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