If you’re a remote worker, the possibilities at your fingertips are truly exciting.
The proliferation of technology has – among other things – allowed us balance work and life without sacrificing productivity. Whether you pair work with raising a family, traveling, living off-grid, or use the flexibility to freelance – remote work gives you more possibilities.
However, like anything else, it has some inherent drawbacks.
If you’re working in an office, you can fall back on the cybersecurity protocols of your workplace. Viruses, malware, and phishing scams are caught by the in-house IT team. And a company security policy means you don’t need to select and install your own security tools.
Remote workers need to take your cybersecurity into their own hands.
Neglecting this responsibility can have disastrous consequences. If your identifying information leaks or is stolen you could end up a victim of financial or identity theft. Leaving your computer unsecured can also put your clients or employer at risk.
It might be helpful to think about remote work, whether you do it as a freelancer or with a contract, as an emerging sector. Personal cybersecurity for remote workers must be part of the best practices for a sector central to the future of work.
1. Separate Your Work and Personal Devices
You should protect both your personal and work device with a VPN and an antivirus. However, if you can, it’s advisable to keep a separate device for separate uses.
If your work account is breached your device will be isolated and the breach will be contained to one account. This is especially important if you share sensitive information over your work network like company financial details or budget information.
If you can’t use separate devices, the next best thing is to make use of separate user accounts on your computer.
2. Learn to Spot Malware and Phishing
Acquiring good cyber behavior often comes down to education. If you know what to expect, and what to look out for, you will be more secure. Make use of the massive amounts of free courses and resources available online and educate yourself about contemporary cyber dangers.
Future Learn, Coursera, and Cyber Degrees, are just a few sites that offer access to valuable cybersecurity education programs online.
3. Avoid Public Wi-Fi (when you can)
Working remotely often goes hand-in-hand with public wi-fi. A recent survey of remote workers showed that more than 60% were connecting to public wi-fi networks with corporate devices. And it’s almost impossible to avoid dedicated freelancers crouched over their Macs at any corner coffee shop.
Unfortunately, public wi-fi networks are extremely vulnerable to cyberattacks. Because public networks are accessible to anyone who has the password, unscrupulous users can intercept your connection and spy on your activity. They can also use the network to get access to your device, steal sensitive information, or even take control of your accounts.
For that reason, it’s safer to use your own mobile internet if you frequently work away from home. If you can’t avoid using public wi-fi networks make sure you protect your device with premium security tools.
4.Use a VPN
One of the best cybersecurity tools all experts seem to agree on is VPNs. If you do find yourself having to work on a public wi-fi network, you should make sure your VPN is switched on before you connect.
A VPN (virtual private network) is an application that encrypts your traffic so no-one can see your passwords or the websites you visit. It also changes your IP address so your identity and location is hidden.
VPNs can sound overly technical but they are simple to use and becoming more popular in an era of censorship, criminal hacking, and government spying. They are also really popular with streaming fans who want to watch media restricted to a particular location, like Netflix or Hulu.
5. Use the Tor Browser
Tor is an effective and free tool for protecting your privacy online. It works by randomly redirecting your internet traffic through several volunteer operated servers (called nodes) and encrypting your traffic with layers of encryption.
Tor deservedly enjoys an excellent reputation and is a good tool in your privacy arsenal. However, it does have some drawbacks. First of all, it has some speed issues. Also, the Tor browser is effective but only for the traffic that is sent and received by the browser. That means downloading, including torrenting, can still reveal your true IP.
To ensure your browser isn’t tracking and for the best privacy protection, you can use a VPN and Tor together.