While many remote jobs before the COVID-19 pandemic were in the IT space, the world of remote work has expanded. Regardless of what profession you are in, you have to take ownership of the cybersecurity of your remote workspace. Furthermore, you must be able to create a home office and tech suite that is conducive to productivity.
While remote work has its perks, it has a bit of a learning curve for those who are used to working in an office with an IT department to call upon. Instead, you’re responsible for your virtual environment with little to no guidance from higher-ups. Use these guidelines to determine the IT essentials you need to run a productive and cyber-safe remote workspace from anywhere.
Hardware and Software Requirements
A safe and productive remote workspace requires the selection and optimization of essential hardware components. A reliable and adequately equipped computer or laptop will likely be the epicenter of your remote work operations. When looking at your new computer’s specifications, look for a robust processor, sufficient RAM, and ample storage. This way, you can rest assured that your tech can handle the demands of modern applications and multitasking.
Additionally, investing in high-quality accessories, such as a comfortable keyboard, ergonomic mouse, and a reliable headset, contributes to a seamless working experience. For those engaged in video conferencing and virtual collaboration, a high-definition webcam and a noise-canceling microphone become indispensable tools for clear communication. Moreover, a dual-monitor setup can enhance productivity by providing ample screen real estate for multitasking and efficient workflow management.
Equally crucial to the hardware foundation are the software solutions that facilitate collaboration, communication, and information security in a remote setting. A comprehensive suite of productivity tools, including document sharing and collaborative platforms, ensures that you can seamlessly work together with your team — regardless of geographical constraints. You will likely need a video conferencing application for virtual meetings, presentations, and screen-sharing.
Furthermore, your employer might require you to implement secure virtual private network (VPN) software. If this doesn’t come preinstalled on the company-provided equipment, you should consult with the IT department on their preferred VPN provider. This tech safeguards sensitive data and communications from potential cyber threats by encrypting private information like your IP address. Work with your IT team to also determine what antivirus and malware protection software you should install across all of your devices.
With a secure setup, you can have peace of mind when working on important tasks. You can even look into productivity software if you are noticing a lapse in your work ethic when working from home. There are accountability platforms like time trackers that can help you keep tabs on your productivity. You can also automate certain tasks to maximize productivity, such as installing a spelling and grammar checker browser extension or creating a script as a developer to quickly take care of repetitive tasks. Make sure to run these by your employer before utilizing them.
Data Backup Strategies
Even if you have a secure setup, there is still the potential that something might happen to important work files. Implementing data backup strategies is an essential step in safeguarding your and your company’s valuable information. Regularly back up your files to secure cloud storage platforms authorized by your employer. This allows for seamless access and recovery in case of unforeseen incidents, such as hacking or power outages. Consider utilizing automatic backup tools to streamline this process, ensuring that critical data is consistently synchronized.
Additionally, diversify your backup locations by storing copies on external hard drives or other physical devices. This approach not only safeguards against accidental deletions or hardware failures but also provides a safety net in the event of cyber threats like ransomware. Be proactive with data backup to empower yourself with the assurance that your work is secure, allowing you to navigate remote work with confidence and resilience, when necessary.
Cybersecurity Best Practices
Again, your hardware and software can be up-to-date and secure, but there is still the human element of remote work to worry about. Brush up on cybersecurity best practices regularly. With the rapid evolution of tech comes equally fast-changing cybersecurity efforts. These include applications like cloud security, endpoint protection, and threat intelligence via machine learning. We have come a long way from simply picking a strong password to involving artificial intelligence in security software to predict and mitigate cyber threats. Keeping informed of best practices will ensure the safety of your remote work.
Cybersecurity in your home office starts with you. Cultivate a heightened sense of awareness by recognizing phishing attempts and unsolicited emails that may carry malicious links. Regularly update your passwords, opting for strong, unique combinations for each account. Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible to add an extra layer of security. Be mindful of the privacy settings on your devices and applications, including personal ones, limiting access to sensitive information. Also, be careful utilizing public Wi-Fi networks, ensuring the VPN is actively encrypting your data. Educating yourself on the latest cybersecurity threats and sharing best practices with your remote team will help everyone be as safe and productive as possible.
A Distraction-Free Environment
A quiet, distraction-free environment is essential for remote work, especially in detail-oriented spaces like IT. You want to enhance focus and productivity as much as possible, reducing errors and security risks from said errors. Consider creating a home office space detached from the main living area. For example, a garage as a home office can be a peaceful and dedicated workspace when converted correctly. Make sure to install proper heating and cooling to stay comfortable and keep your systems running correctly. Put up insulation and soundproof walls when possible to avoid distractions.
If needed, put a schedule on the door to remind housemates and family members of your working hours. Your productivity depends on your ability to set and enforce these boundaries. Remember that a separate workplace is important for your mental health and productivity at work, but it also keeps private information secure by reducing human error.
When you’re setting up your home workspace, you can make sure your work and personal information are secure by taking some extra steps.
With the help of your employer and online resources on cybersecurity, you can navigate the challenges of remote work safely and successfully.