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Digital security when you work from home

Published onMar 31, 2020
Digital security when you work from home

I promise you, when the announcement was made that people would need to work from home, your office IT department freaked out. Not only are they scrambling to set up videoconferencing, phone forwarding, and document sharing, they’ve also been thrust in to the nightmare of everyone using their own devices in unpredictable, unsafe ways that leave your office’s digital valuables vulnerable to cybercrime.

Take some of the work off their hands: boost your home office’s security by working through the digital security section of the Keep Calm and Log On website. They’ll thank you for taking this on, so they don’t have to. You can also order a physical or digital copy of the book for checklists and additional advice.

To double-check you’ve taken the right steps, here’s the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s work-from-home security guide for journalists, which, frankly, is the right advice for pretty much everyone. (Uh, except for the advice about accepting leaks from sources. Leave that to journalists.)

Be careful of phishing emails as well—we’re already seeing a rise in messages which try to frighten people into clicking links, pretending to be hospitals and telling the reader they were exposed to coronavirus through contact with someone they know. In my spam folder, I’m seeing a lot of malicious attempts to take advantage of people’s loneliness as well as their fear. The AARP is doing a lot of good reporting on common scams, including ones by phone.

Whatever you do, DON’T click links in questionable email, even if the email makes you feel frightened, hopeful about a vaccine, or like you’ll miss out. The answer to the question “what could it hurt?” is “an awful lot.” Each link could download a trojan or other malware onto your machine—making it possible for a criminal to access your office’s digital valuables, or your own.

Finally: be extra nice to your IT folks right now. They’ve got a lot of people calling them with urgent problems, so please be patient. Mailing them chocolate might also be recommended.

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