5 tips on how to work safely in your home office [+ checklist]

Those who can work at home these days – the home office makes it possible. But not only employees want to access company networks from outside, cyber criminals also sense their opportunity. You can safely set up your workplace with simple measures.

1. Separate professional and private matters

Basically, you should use the devices that your company provides for your job. If you have a stationary computer in your office, you can’t just take it home with you. In order to protect professional information on your private computer, at least different browsers are recommended – for example Chrome for private purposes and Firefox for business purposes.

You get even more security if you set up an extra account without admin rights for your job. Malicious software typically gets onto your computer during normal tasks such as reading e-mail. If the software is executed while the user has admin rights, a correspondingly greater damage can be caused than in a regular user account. You can easily manage your user accounts via the settings on your computer.

2. Protect WLAN

Many people have never changed the default password for their WiFi network – and that’s pretty negligent. Cyber ​​criminals rely on the private network to be less protected than the work network. If you are currently in the home office, you should change your password now at the latest. How exactly this works depends on which manufacturer your router is from. As a rule, you proceed as follows to change your password: Log into your router and look for settings that have something to do with “WLAN” and “Security”. You can then set your new password.

The following applies to the password itself: the longer and more complex it is, the more difficult it is to crack.

So you should use upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. It can’t hurt if you build a donkey’s bridge for your password – then you can remember it better. For example, take the first letters of the first line of your favorite song and replace some of the letters with numbers and special characters.

EXTRA: Many companies are easy prey for hackers

3. Install updates

Hackers like to exploit vulnerabilities in programs to smuggle in all sorts of malware. Therefore, the programs on your computer should be up to date. So if you are asked to update, you shouldn’t delay the installation for unnecessarily long – it also closes any vulnerabilities that may have occurred. Programs that are used particularly frequently should always be up-to-date. This includes, for example, the operating system, browser or office software that you use.

4. Activate the antivirus program

Antivirus programs can be quite annoying. At the most inopportune moments, warnings appear that interrupt your work flow and disrupt your concentration. And sometimes a particularly overzealous agent even blocks unsuspicious software. However, it is also the antivirus program that detects, blocks and eliminates computer viruses, worms or Trojans – and thus prevents the viruses from spreading unhindered on your computer.

If you are still looking for a suitable antivirus program, make sure that it constantly updates itself – then you don’t always have to keep that in mind. In addition, the antivirus program of your choice should have been checked by specialists for its suitability. In addition, it is worth reading test reports from reputable providers such as Stiftung Warentest.

5. Set up VPN

Even if you work from home, you will likely need access to the company network to get your work materials. A secure solution for this is a VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. You can use it to connect to the company network and access your internal structures. The VPN is made particularly secure by a 2-factor authentication: Here something that you know is combined with something that you have – for example, login data with an access code that is sent to your smartphone.

When you connect to the company network, no private activities should run in the background. This means that you should check private e-mails after work, for example. If you accidentally open an infected email attachment, it will automatically download the malware. And that could in turn get into your company’s network.

Extra: Beware of emails!

Many cyber criminals currently rely on sending emails related to the coronavirus. In doing so, they take advantage of the fact that the topic is afflicted with strong emotions. Because those who are emotional become careless – and therefore tend to click on a link or open an attachment that would otherwise have aroused suspicion. So be especially careful if you suddenly get emails with supposedly important information and advice, dubious shop offers or calls for fundraising campaigns. In the worst case, they should trick you into revealing confidential data such as passwords or installing malware.

Here’s how you can protect yourself from phishing emails:

  • Be careful with emails from unknown senders. Don’t open any links or attachments.
  • Ask yourself if you even expect an email from this contact. If in doubt, ask personally.
  • Compare the displayed sender name with the actual sender address. The sender name is particularly easy to forge.
  • In general, pay attention to clues that could indicate a fake email. This includes, for example, an impersonal address such as “Dear customer” instead of your own name or poor spelling.

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