Most of us are new to full-time telework and the challenges that come along with a 10-foot commute. I’m here to share some tips on ways you can help to keep business sensitive data secure outside the office.

The EU has already warned the business community that data protection authorities will carefully monitor how businesses handle the public’s personal data during COVID-19. It’s also only a matter of time before bad actors use this opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities at companies that are in transition to telework. Sadly, there’s no such thing as data Purell, but there are ways to mitigate the dangers.

Here are a few data hygiene suggestions:

  • Verify that your home network is encrypted and password-protected. Lock it down if it isn’t.
  • Use your VPN to conduct business. You should not expect third-party VPNs to provide an adequate level of security necessary to conduct company business or transmit personal information.
  • Never conduct official business on unencrypted or open networks.
  • Use only official corporate equipment. Do not use personal home computers and laptops.
  • Do not store company intellectual property or personal information on portable storage media, including portable hard drives and USB drives.
  • Use extra caution when using personal mobile devices, such as phones and iPads, in order to conduct business. If you do so, use only encrypted apps in use and officially supported at your company (e.g. Slack, Zendesk, Gmail, etc). Do not transmit intellectual property or personal data over open browsers or networks.
  • Do not use unofficial third-party services to conduct business (such as free internet scanning/faxing, etc).
  • Set a locking screen saver and set it whenever you leave your desk. Nearly all of modern Macs are capable of unlocking a locked screen saver with a fingerprint.
  • Observe your surroundings. Make sure that you are conducting meetings in private spaces and that audio is not drifting out open windows.
  • Use long passwords and an encrypted password management system (1Password is my favorite system).
  • Watch your tabs when taking screenshots, they can often reveal sensitive (or embarrassing!) information.

Separately, I recommend switching your web browser to Brave, a more secure version of Chrome that blocks most trackers and sensors by default. Brave supports nearly all Chrome extensions and themes, so you should be able to replicate your Chrome environment without much hassle. I’ve found that Brave’s security tech speeds up several in-browser business apps (Zendesk especially).

These steps, combined with heightened awareness and common sense, should help to keep your company and your users’ data protected during this crisis.

Good luck, and stay safe!