2020 has delivered a perfect storm for data hackers. Not only are they getting more sophisticated, our businesses have become more vulnerable. Why? With a greater proportion of people now working remotely due to COVID, our behaviours and rituals around data security have changed.

However, with literally thousands of cyber-attacks occurring each year in Australia[1], it’s something we all need to be aware of. And, as highlighted by the recent attacks on Toll and Lion Nathan, the size of your business is no protection either.

At NEOS, we take data security VERY seriously and we strive to ensure that our team is equipped to manage the quickly mutating threats to data security. Here’s a few key tips that may help you and your team work ‘safely’ from home.

How to protect your business data when working from home

When it comes to ensuring you’re protecting your business’s data, there’s two areas to consider: physical and digital security.

1. Physical

We all take for granted the physical security the modern office provides. By design and habit, we don’t really notice the use of swipe cards or locks to access the office, security cameras, secure waste disposal, secure printing, sign in sheets etc.

However, when we work remotely, these things typically don’t exist. We’re also outside our normal workday rituals such as logging on/off our computers, putting laptops into lockers and clearing our desks, amongst other things. That’s why it’s important to pay particular attention to physical data security when away from the office.

Key hints: physical security

  • Secure your work devices when you stop work. This includes locking your PC when you take a break and/or putting your devices in a safe place so your family/flatmates can’t use your work PC for their personal use
  • Be aware of the physical material you print at home and where you leave it. When you’re away from your workspace, physically remove any sensitive materials and secure them in a draw etc.
  • Purchase a shredder and securely destroy any printed work materials you no longer need
  • Create your own ‘work from home rituals’ for the start and end the day (e.g. have a clean desk policy at home).

2. Digital

It’s natural to feel that our home is a safe place.

However, when you’re online, you’re actually open to the plethora of threats the internet has on offer. That’s why you need to be particularly diligent when it comes to cyber security.

Fast action is needed to defend against cyber threats, as well as strong digital security protocols.

Key hints: digital security

  • Make sure you’re using your own Wi-Fi network and not your neighbour’s ‘free’ Wi-Fi
  • Ensure you secure your Wi-Fi router and that the default password is changed
  • Rename your SSID (i.e. your network name) to something that doesn’t identify the make of your WIFI router or the location of the router
  • Avoid putting portal drives into your work computer e.g. USB drives.  You just never know where they’ve been and what potential threats (such as viruses) they may hold
  • If your company or business offers a VPN, make sure you use it! Or consider using a personal VPN when using unsecured Wi-Fi (such as Wi-Fi at a café, public library etc.)
  • If something doesn’t feel right about an email or attachment, immediately contact your IT support to check.

Data security is everyone’s responsibility

When it comes to protecting a business’s data, we’re all responsible. In fact, the onus is now increasingly on the individual. And in our industry, where we collect, share and store highly sensitive information about our clients, that responsibility has never been more important.

Don’t become a headline – make sure you put in place rigorous data protection practices, regularly train your staff and be sure to practice what you preach!

[1] Source: https://www.webberinsurance.com.au/data-breaches-list