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Top 5 Steps to Work Securely from Home

We know that working from home can be new to some of you, per­haps over­whelming as you adjust to your new envi­ron­ment. One of our goals is to enable you to work as securely as pos­sible from home. Below are five simple steps to working securely.

The best part is all of these steps not only help secure your work, but they will make you and your family far more safe as you create a cyber­se­cure home.

1. You

First and fore­most, tech­nology alone cannot fully pro­tect you – you are the best defence. Attackers have learned that the eas­iest way to get what they want is to target you, rather than your com­puter or other devices. If they want your pass­word, work data or con­trol of your com­puter, they’ll attempt to trick you into giving it to them, often by cre­ating a sense of urgency. For example, they can call you pre­tending to be Microsoft tech­nical sup­port and claim that your com­puter is infected. Or per­haps they send you an email warning that a package could not be deliv­ered, fooling you into clicking on a mali­cious link.

The most common indi­ca­tors of a social engi­neering attack include:

  • Someone cre­ating a tremen­dous sense of urgency, often through fear, intim­i­da­tion, a crisis or an impor­tant deadline.
  • Pres­sure to bypass or ignore secu­rity poli­cies or pro­ce­dures, or an offer too good to be true (no, you did not win the lottery!).
  • A mes­sage from a friend or co-worker in which the sig­na­ture, tone of voice or wording does not sound like them.
Ulti­mately, the best defence against these attacks is you!

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2. Home Network

Almost every home net­work starts with a wire­less (often called Wi-Fi) net­work. This is what enables all of your devices to con­nect to the Internet. Most home wire­less net­works are con­trolled by your Internet router or a sep­a­rate, ded­i­cated wire­less access point. Both work in the same way: by broad­casting wire­less sig­nals to which home devices con­nect. This means securing your wire­less net­work is a key part of pro­tecting your home.

We rec­om­mend the fol­lowing steps to secure it:

  • Change the default admin­is­trator pass­word: The admin­is­trator account is what allows you to configure the set­tings for your wire­less net­work. An attacker can easily dis­cover the default pass­word that the man­u­fac­turer has provided.
  • Allow only people that you trust: Do this by enabling strong secu­rity so that only people you trust can con­nect to your wire­less net­work. Strong secu­rity will require a pass­word for anyone to con­nect to your wire­less net­work. It will encrypt their activity once they are connected.
  • Make pass­words strong: The pass­words people use to con­nect to your wire­less net­work must be strong and dif­ferent from the admin­is­trator pass­word. Remember, you only need to enter the pass­word once for each of your devices, as they store and remember the pass­word.

Not sure, how to do these steps?

Ask your Internet Ser­vice Provider, check their web­site, check the doc­u­men­ta­tion that came with your wire­less access point, or refer to the vendor’s website.

Use a VPN con­nec­tion when working

You can use a VPN con­nec­tion to con­nect your home device to your com­pany net­work in a secure manner. In the process, con­tent is pro­tected by way of encryp­tion (end to end encryp­tion) during transmission.

3. Pass­words

When a site asks you to create a pass­word, create a strong pass­word: the more char­ac­ters it has, the stronger it is. Using a passphrase is one of the sim­plest ways to ensure that you have a strong pass­word. A passphrase is nothing more than a pass­word made up of mul­tiple words, such as “bee honey bourbon.” Using a unique passphrase means using a dif­ferent one for each device Pass­words or online account. This way if one passphrase is com­pro­mised, all of your other accounts and devices are still safe.

Can’t remember all those passphrases?

Use a pass­word man­ager, which is a spe­cial­ized pro­gram that securely stores all your passphrases in an encrypted format (and has lots of other great fea­tures, too!). Finally, enable two-step ver­ifi­ca­tion (also called two-factor or multi-factor authen­ti­ca­tion) when­ever pos­sible. It uses your pass­word, but also adds a second step, such as a code sent to your smart­phone or an app that gen­er­ates the code for you. Two-step ver­ifi­ca­tion is prob­ably the most impor­tant step you can take to pro­tect your online accounts and it’s much easier than you may think.

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4. Updates

Cyber attackers are con­stantly looking for new vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in the soft­ware your devices use. When they dis­cover vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, they use spe­cial pro­grams to exploit them and hack into the devices you are using. Mean­while, the com­pa­nies that cre­ated the soft­ware for these devices are hard at work fixing them by releasing updates. By ensuring your com­puters and mobile devices install these updates promptly, you make it much harder for someone to hack you. To stay cur­rent, simply enable auto­matic updating when­ever pos­sible. This rule applies to almost any tech­nology con­nected to a net­work, including not only your work devices but Internet-con­nected TV’s, baby mon­i­tors, secu­rity cam­eras, home routers, gaming con­soles or even your car.

Make sure each of your com­puters, mobile devices, pro­gramms and apps are run­ning the latest ver­sion of its software.

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5. Kids & Guests

Some­thing you most likely don’t have to worry about at the office is chil­dren, guests or other family mem­bers using your work laptop or other work devices. They can acci­den­tally erase or modify infor­ma­tion, or, per­haps even worse, acci­den­tally infect the device.

Make sure family and friends under­stand they cannot use your work devices.

Is the same device used by sev­eral people?

Estab­lish a sep­a­rate user account for every person in case a device is used by sev­eral people. This will at least achieve a log­ical sep­a­ra­tion, and every user can only access data in their own sec­tion then.


These rec­om­men­da­tions are based on the data sheet of the SANS Insti­tute.

What else would you like to learn about security when e-banking?

Reg­ister for a course now
and learn more:

Basic course

Find out about cur­rent Internet threats and some easy pro­tec­tive mea­sures, and how to securely use e-banking.

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Online course mobile banking/payments

Find out about mobile banking, mobile pay­ments and how to securely use these apps.

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Online course for the under-30s

Learn how to use your smart­phone securely. Next to basics, we will show you what you should know about social media, clouds, mobile banking and mobile payments.

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Course for SMEs

Is your organ­i­sa­tion suf­fi­ciently secure? Learn which mea­sures you can take to sig­nif­i­cantly strengthen your organisation’s IT security.

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