How to Improve Cybersecurity in Your Home Office

By Guest | Posted March 4, 2022

Header image courtesy of Grovemade on Unsplash

This article is intended as a generalized overview and is not a substitute for comprehensive cybersecurity practices. For more information, seek out trusted sources such as the FBI, Federal Trade Commission, or your own IT and cybersecurity teams. This article comes to us from guest contributor, Shannon Hand, a freelance writer who covers a variety of technology-related topics. 

Due to the pandemic and a cultural shift, more people worldwide are working remotely now than ever before. As a result, office workers are investing more in their remote setup. Whether it’s a new desk, additional monitors, or a comfortable chair, we’re spending most of our weekdays being productive in this space; why wouldn’t you want to improve your space and make it as comfortable and aesthetically pleasing as possible?

But there’s one aspect of creating a home office that often gets overlooked, and that’s cybersecurity. As important as being comfortable in your at-home workspace, it’s even more vital to be safe. In a world where cyberattacks are happening more and more frequently, is your home office sufficiently protected? 

Photo by ergonofis on Unsplash

Why Is Endpoint Security So Important?

Endpoint security is critical for anyone who operates on the internet, but it’s especially vital if you work from home and use multiple devices. When we talk about endpoint security, we’re talking about securing all devices—or endpoints—within your network. Each of those devices provides another opportunity for cybercriminals to attack.
Think of all the devices in your home that connect to the internet: your desktop, laptop, tablet, printer, cell phone, and more. Endpoint security is all about securing these access points to prevent malware and other harmful code from getting in. 
If you’re not sure whether your home’s endpoints are sufficiently protected, we’ve got some tips for you. Here are some guidelines for improving endpoint security in your home office.

Know the Potential Dangers

It’s difficult to safeguard your devices against cyberattacks when you don’t know what you’re up against. Start by educating yourself on the various cyberattacks your devices are subject to. Do some quick research to learn how to identify phishing scams, how to set strong passwords, and what to do if you suspect your computer has been affected by malware.
When it comes to cyberattacks, many people think of viruses. That’s not incorrect—viruses are indeed used in digital attacks every day—but there are so many other types of attacks to be aware of. Here is a quick rundown of the most common types of digital threats:
  • Malware. The name “malware” comes from “malicious software,” which refers to any type of intrusive software that can harm your data or devices. Malware includes viruses, trojans, spyware, ransomware, and more. Because the term “malware” encompasses so many specific types of attacks, it is the most common type of cyberattack.
  • Phishing. This type of attack tries to trick users through email, text messages, phone calls, or social media posts. In a phishing attempt, cybercriminals try to get users to share sensitive information, like their bank account information or social security number. They often do this by posing as a trusted contact, like your bank or employer. Phishing attacks dramatically increased at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as criminals took advantage of people spending more time online. 
  • Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks. A DoS attack is a targeted method that floods your network with false requests in an attempt to disrupt normal operations. When a DoS attack happens, the user will be unable to perform regular tasks, such as accessing the internet browser or retrieving email. Your data usually won’t get lost in this type of cyberattack, but DoS attacks can be costly in terms of time and productivity.
  • Password Attacks. Most people think of this when they think about being hacked—someone stealing a password. If you don’t set strong enough passwords for your accounts (we’ll talk more about that shortly), you’re making it easy for cybercriminals to access your accounts and steal sensitive information.
  • Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Attacks. In this type of cyberattack, a criminal “eavesdrops” on a conversation between your device and a web application. The goal of MITM attacks is to collect information like passwords, banking information, and personal data. MITM attacks often affect individuals, but they are also a concern for large organizations. 
And because cyberattacks are constantly evolving, growing more sophisticated each day, it’s essential to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the cybersecurity world. The more familiar you are with the threats that exist, the better equipped you’ll be to protect your data.

Properly Secure Your Devices

One of the simplest things you can do in the name of cybersecurity is to be thoughtful about the passwords you use. Here are some quick tips on password safety:
●      Do not use the same password for multiple accounts.
●      Never use personal information (like your initials, birthday, or pet’s name) in your passwords.
●      Change your passwords frequently. 
●      Use a password manager to create and store hard-to-guess passwords.
●      Set up multi-factor authentication for all accounts.
In addition to following best practices for your device and account passwords, it’s essential to keep your devices secure when they’re not in use. Implement a password or facial recognition on your cell phone. Set your computer to automatically lock if it sits idle for a certain amount of time. And never leave your open devices unattended, especially if you’re traveling or working in a public space.

Use a VPN and Firewall

Utilizing a virtual private network, or VPN, is an inexpensive and straightforward way to secure your internet connection. VPNs are used in conjunction with your home Wi-Fi by encrypting incoming and outgoing data, making it more difficult for criminals to steal. A VPN will ensure a safe connection between your home office and your place of employment, so you’ll be able to send sensitive information without worrying about whether or not it’s protected.
Another good tip for improving endpoint security at home is to invest in firewall security, in addition to a VPN. A firewall will prevent external threats from making their way into your network. The firewall acts like a bouncer at a club, determining which packets of data will be allowed into your network and which will be blocked.

Invest in Quality Cybersecurity Technology

Cybersecurity threats are everywhere, which is why nobody should operate from a home office before investing in top-notch cybersecurity technology.
Antivirus software, for example, is one way to stay a step ahead of cybercriminals. AV software keeps out viruses, malware, ransomware, and other malicious code that may be trying to steal your personal information. You can think of antivirus software as a proactive way to stop cyberattacks before they happen.
In addition to investing in AV software, it’s also a great idea to purchase endpoint security software. As we mentioned earlier, endpoint security is all about protecting each device that connects to your home’s network.

Take Action Now to Prevent Cyber Threats in the Future

You might think your home is safer than a public office when it comes to the likelihood of a cyberattack. That’s not necessarily true, though—especially in a time where people are working from home more frequently than ever before.
Cybercriminals are specifically targeting people who work remotely. That makes at-home endpoint security paramount for remote workers. Following these simple guidelines today can prevent a costly data breach later on down the road.
At Control4, security and privacy is a very high priority for our customers and partners. You can find more information about our privacy practices here. We will always strive to give home and business owners the best and safest experience possible.

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