It’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), and this week’s theme is “Securing Devices at Home and at Work”. As both cybercrime and work-from-home rates rise, it's never been more crucial to secure your devices.
One study estimates that 31% of workers employed in March had switched to remote work by April. While some people are returning to the office, many others are still working from home or doing some hybrid of the two, making device cybersecurity a pressing concern.
In light of this new urgency, here are five tips for improving the security of devices both at home and at work.
The first step to securing your devices is protecting the network they're on. Make sure you’re enabling encryption. Your router likely comes with options for multiple encryption languages like WEP and WPA2.
WPA2 offers more security than WEP, so turn that on if your router supports it. Newer devices may even support WPA3, which is even more secure, so opt for that if it's available. Since encryption is a standard offering in Wi-Fi routers, you can enable it on both home and work networks.
If you work on a personal device, you need to take steps to keep your accounts separate. Without using different accounts, any breaches or security shortcomings in one area could affect the other. To avoid this, create a guest user on your computer to use exclusively for work projects.
You may even consider setting up separate Wi-Fi networks for work and personal use. The more you can keep your work processes separate from your home ones, the safer your accounts will be. Similarly, any threats that affect your work network won't touch your personal files if you keep everything separate.
One of the most crucial factors in device cybersecurity is password management. If you use weak passwords or reuse the same one across multiple accounts, hackers can easily access your accounts. Using strong, varied passwords is a good first step, but multifactor authentication (MFA) takes it further.
It's far more challenging to hack multiple layers of security, which is precisely what MFA provides. Many devices, including IoT gadgets, support MFA too, so you can apply it virtually everywhere. If you use it on as many devices as possible, hackers likely can't access them all.
Some devices, especially routers and smart home gadgets, come with a remote access option. While this feature can make life more convenient, it can also be a substantial security risk. With remote access enabled, hackers could change your router's privacy settings from a device outside your network.
Unless you need administrative access to your network remotely, you don't need remote access. Disabling it is often as straightforward as flipping a switch on the back of your router.
Lastly, make sure you update all your software as often as you can. This step is especially critical for anti-malware and other security programs, but it applies to everything. Regularly updating your software ensures you secure your devices from as many known vulnerabilities as possible.
There's a high chance that some of your devices run outdated programs. A recent study found that 55% of all Windows computers are running out-of-date software. If you have trouble remembering to check for new versions, you can enable automatic updates.
Device cybersecurity is a prominent concern whether you're at home or the office. Without thorough security, cybercriminals could compromise both your work and personal devices. If you follow these five steps, you can make sure your devices are secure from the rising number of threats.