By now, many of us are settling into working from home or helping our kids with remote learning, perhaps even ordering new headphones or a standing desk, knowing a return to office life may be slow to come. As you try to perfect home office ergonomics and new ways to focus on work amid domestic distractions, now is also a good time to assess how you’re keeping your devices—and all the precious information they hold—safe.
As we adapt to a fully remote work environment, bad actors are adapting too, concocting new ways to steal our personal and sensitive data. Microsoft tracks millions of email phishing messages each day, and roughly 60,000 contain malicious links or attachments related to COVID-19.
The good news is that you can greatly enhance your security without much effort or expense. By following these simple tips, you can significantly reduce your risk of being hacked—wherever you work.
- Don’t take the bait. If you don’t recognize a link, don’t click on it. Pay close attention to messages supposedly sent by banks or credit companies, especially if they urge you to act immediately. It may be a phishing scam. If something feels suspicious, go directly to the official website, even if the message is “personalized” with your name.
- Back up your data. Store files safely in the cloud and only use secure file storage locations so your personal information is out of the hands of criminals. If something happens to your device, you don’t have to worry about losing your files or photos if they are backed up on an encrypted cloud storage service like Microsoft’s OneDrive.
- Make sure the Wi-Fi is secure. At home or in public, take a moment to confirm you have a secure internet connection. Look for the “lock” icon in the top left of the address bar of your web browser—this confirms whether the network you’re using is encrypted. And make it a habit to double-check that the address you’re navigating to is what you expected.
- Go passwordless. Long, complex passwords are crucial to fend off hacks, but tough to remember or keep track of. To log on more securely and easily, turn on features that let you use your face or fingerprint to sign in. On Windows 10 devices, you can use the built-in Microsoft Authenticator app and Windows Hello to do just that.
- Use a modern device. If you’re in the market for a new computer, choose a modern device with baked-in security controls. For example, Windows 10 devices come equipped with the latest security and feature updates and built-in anti-virus protection from Windows Defender Antivirus. These types of security integrations help keep your device safe with little to no additional effort on your part.
- Run those updates. It may be tempting to ignore prompts to update our devices, but they do more than fix bugs. Allowing automatic updates from the cloud ensures you have the latest security patches to keep the hackers at bay. Take a look at your device’s privacy control settings and review privacy statements to make sure what you’ve selected is right for you, your family—and your business. Even though you can no longer walk down the hall to the Help Desk, don’t hesitate to reach out to your IT department for help or guidance.