5 tips for more secure remote working.

Laura Spencer
From Digital Law

For some people who run their own businesses or those whose employers promote flexibility in the workplace, remote working may be the norm.
However, for a large majority of the population, this whole “working from home” situation is completely new! Whilst working from home is essential during this difficult and unprecedented time, it doesn’t come without its risks. Whilst working from home you and your colleagues must ensure that you are working securely and are still abiding by similar, if not the same, cybersecurity and data protection rules that your business usually follows.

For this reason, we have put together a list of top tips and advice which might help you and your colleagues to stay secure whilst working from home.

1. Partition your Wi-Fi.

You shouldn’t just assume that your home Wi-Fi is secure just because it is password protected. Without even talking about the risk of someone hacking into your Wi-Fi network and using it as an outlet to gain access to your devices, risks can come from sharing the password itself.

In some households sharing the Wi-Fi password may not be a big issue however for households who are regularly having guests around, e.g. those with children, the passwords may be shared with a vast amount of people and before you know it your password login details have been shared far and wide. Bear in mind that those with teenage children might find that friends of friends inadvertently have access to your network and might have a high degree of proficiency in using that network in ways that might be quite alien to you. Having a partitioned Wi-Fi, with one network for your own devices, and any IOT smart equipment while providing a limited “guest” network for any visitors to use helps you reduce any risks that can be associated with mass network use by keeping home life and work-life completely separate. Most routers now include this facility and it can be set up fairly simply by looking online for guidance specific to your model of router

2. Work in a separate room to your family.

Confidentiality is just as important when working at home as it is when working in the office or any other location. Usually, this may not be an issue as other family members may be out of the house during your work hours, e.g. at school or at work. However, during this unprecedented time where a lot of the population is working from home and the majority of children are not in school due to closures, confidentiality becomes even more of a key issue.

Having a mindset of “it’s just my family” is the wrong mindset to have. Yes, your family may not listen in to your conference calls with clients or read your emails when you’re not looking but they may accidentally mix an important client document in with your household letters or everyday documents. These documents may then be recycled with all of your everyday household waste. Something like this is easily done. It only takes one little mistake like this to jeopardise your client confidentiality and put you and your firm at risk of regulatory sanctions. For this reason, it is easier and more secure to work in a separate room in order to ensure that all of your work documents do not get mixed up with other household items and that your confidential discussions with clients are not overheard.

3. Invest in a shredder or have a separate bin to store documents until they can be properly disposed of.

As mentioned above, confidentiality is key and therefore it is essential to make sure that client documents or any documents that contain private confidential information or personal data are disposed of in the correct way. In the office, you may have a shredder or confidential waste bin which can be used to shred all documents containing such information before they are recycled. However, whilst working from home you may not have this option. During the “lockdown” you may not be able to get your hands on such an item and therefore an easy solution would be to just keep all documents that contain personal or confidential data in a specific place e.g. a specifically labelled bin or a specific cupboard. Once you are then allowed back into the office you can dispose of the documents securely.

4. Make sure you are not overlooked.

When you are working in the office you must ensure that your desk and workplace are not overlooked by neighbouring companies or residential properties as this increases the risk of breaching client confidentiality. The same applies when you are working from home. The majority of desktop and laptop PCs now all come with high definition screens that can be seen very clearly from a surprisingly large distance away

To ensure that your workspace at home is not overlooked make sure that your computer screen or documentation cannot be seen by passers-by or by people in other neighbouring properties.

5. Avoid using free and non-compliant data sharing platforms.

Your organisations may have an old legacy system in place that cannot be accessed from outside of the organisation. For this reason, it may be appealing to use free data sharing platforms to talk to your colleagues or even share client documents during the period of home working, however, these platforms should be avoided at all costs. These free platforms are designed for personal use only and therefore aren’t always compliant with data protection laws such as GDPR. Using these platforms will only increase you and your organisation’s risk of a cybersecurity or data protection breach.