The internet brings the world to your fingertips – all from the comfort of your own home. There’s no longer any need to go to the library to conduct research or endure a traffic-filled drive to the store, and this kind of connected convenience has allowed a large and growing portion of the workforce to make their living from a home office.
But when your entire source of income hangs in the balance, keeping your data safe couldn’t be more important. Whether you’re a freelancer at home or a journalist filing stories from around the world, if you’re working remotely you need to take your data very seriously.
What’s the worst that could happen?
If you’re asking that question, take some time to read the story of Mat Honan, the Wired employee who had his entire digital life erased in a single hour. He hadn’t backed up the data on his MacBook. He wasn’t using 2-Step Verification. He used the same login information to access all of his accounts. Because of this, hackers were able to remotely erase all of the data on his MacBook, iPad, and iPhone.
It could happen to anybody. Many internet users are extremely irresponsible with their data. If you work from home, you rely on that data to make a living. So make sure you don’t become a victim – follow these online security tips:
- Keep your browser updated to the latest version – most updates fix newly discovered vulnerabilities in the software.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of “https” – that little “s” in the URL is your best friend. If you’re browsing any website without “https” then a hacker, if they wanted to, could see everything you do, including entering your login credentials into your email or online bank account. Your best bet is to install the Https Everywhere extension (for Firefox or Google Chrome) which automatically encrypts any unencrypted data while you’re browsing.
If you’re working remotely, chances are your email account contains massive amount of vital information. It’s the lifeblood of the freelancer’s career – every assignment, report, invoice and receipt goes through it. Not only can any personal financial information be used to perform identity theft, but imagine if your password were to be changed or your data destroyed! It could amount to a career-damaging catastrophe.
Don’t make the mistake of overlooking these 3 precautions:
- 2-Step Verification: Set up your email account so that whenever anyone tries to access it from an unfamiliar IP address, they will be required to prove their identity beyond just supplying the correct password. You can set it up so that a unique, one-time-use code will be sent to your phone or you can use a tool such as the Google Authenticator app.
- Monitor Email Forwarding: It’s possible that your email account has already been hacked and you just don’t know it! Some hackers are very cautious – instead openly using your email account, they can set it up so that every email you send or receive is automatically forwarded to another account. You should regularly check your “Forward and POP/IMAP” settings to ensure that there are no unknown accounts receiving your private emails.
- Https: Sorry to repeat ourselves, but “https” really is your best friend! Most email providers include an “always use https” option – make sure to use it.
First of all, you shouldn’t be publishing any sensitive information on Facebook and Twitter, since they are not at all secure. Even if you’re sure that your social media presence is responsible, you should still activate “https navigation” in your Facebook and Twitter settings and login notifications in Facebook to alert you of unusual activity.
How do you keep yourself and your data safe when working remotely? Have you ever been hacked, and if so, what did you do wrong? Leave a comment below or visit us on Facebook and Twitter.