As it looks like Coronavirus could be with us for some time, working remotely from home could well prove to be the new normal for many of us doing business here in London. Whether the lockdown continues or not, millions of us have now found a corner of our living space to turn into our work space. This has caused many small business owners to consider a vitally important question: ‘How can we secure our home office for remote working?’

Remember what we said in part one of this series of articles when we looked at securing your Wi-Fi and network? Well, to keep your small business IT infrastructure, IP, data and confidential information safe and secure while your people work remotely, you need to match the level of cybersecurity you deploy in your offices, on the technology your teams use at home.

Don’t worry. This needn’t be expensive, complicated or time consuming. But it is a vitally important undertaking because, as the UK government’s own Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport reported in 2019, around a third (32%) of the nation’s businesses, small London businesses included, had experienced cybersecurity attacks in the previous 12 months.

And that threat level rises alarmingly when you and your team members work from home.

So, here’s the second part of our ‘How can we secure our home office for remote working’ checklist

In this second article in our four-part ‘How we can secure our home office for remote working’ checklist, we’re going to discuss why using the latest operating systems and installing antivirus and critical updates are all important safeguards you can put in place for virtually no cost. So read on to discover:

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<h2id=”security”>Home office security checklist for remote workers

Once again, here’s our complete home office security checklist for your remotely working team. You may remember we’ve already covered the first two items in our previous post.

  1. Securing your Wi-Fi and Internet (covered in Part 1)
  2. Protect Internet browsing with a DNS provider (covered in Part 1)
  3. Update your operating system to the latest version
  4. Install and use the latest antivirus/malware protection
  5. Develop strong passwords and use a password management tool
  6. Move administrator rights to a separate account
  7. Use Cloud backup

Why you should install and use the latest operating system

Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and devious. They’re generating and dispatching malware round-the-clock, to threaten your servers and devices, network, operating system (OS), the software and applications installed on it and, of course, your data.

Some liken it to a war of attrition between the bad guys and the rest of us, including we London-based small and medium-sized business owners. It’s a conflict you cannot afford to ignore or lose.

So to protect these invaluable digital assets, make sure you’re running the latest operating systems for all your tech. As we’re sure you know, new versions of operating systems are released on a regular basis by their designers and vendors to eliminate bugs, incorporate security improvements and enhance software and hardware compatibility. However, before you update your OS, please back up all your data and be sure your hardware and other peripherals are compatible with any upgrades.

Why you should not ignore those update messages

We know they can be annoying and appear all too often. But if your computer alerts you to the availability of system updates, please don’t ignore them. As we say above, upgrading is critical to keeping your IT infrastructure, IP, data and confidential personal information safe and secure, while keeping your technology running smoothly for maximum availability and business continuity.

How you can check for operating system updates

Of course, you don’t need to wait to be reminded of the availability of updates, you can check for them yourself. Here’s how:

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For Windows updates:

select the Start button > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, and then select Check for updates. You can find more information on the Microsoft website.

For Apple updates:

you can get critical system updates from Apple Support Downloads. For a chronology of updates, visit Apple Security Updates. To set the frequency of checking for Apple updates, go to the Apple main menu > System Preferences > Software Update.

Why you should install antivirus and critical updates

Running up-to-date operating and other systems is an important and free step in better securing your remote users’ technology but you also need to protect their computers against viruses. This can also be achieved for nothing, as there is free antivirus software available from AVG . Please uninstall any existing antivirus software before installing AVG, then run a full scan of your machine after installation and configure AVG to run full weekly scans of your machine.

It makes sense to prioritise these updates so they do not interfere with your regular work schedules. In addition to updating your operating system and installing antivirus software, you should also update any of the following solutions you might be using as a matter of urgency, to ensure you’re running the latest available versions:

  • Internet browser
  • Flash player
  • Adobe Reader
  • Firewall
  • Microsoft Office products

Why you should remove unused or obsolete technology

Now, while your reviewing and managing the above critical updates, please check on and remove any unused or obsolete technology, such as software or peripherals you no longer need. Why? Simply because these are just additional potential weak links in your home office security and can create vulnerabilities.

What to do next?

We’ll be posting parts three and four of our home office security checklist for your remote workers soon – so please stay tuned.

Note that we routinely undertake all the updates we mention above for our London-based small business clients. So if you’d like to know more about this series of articles specifically and remote working cybersecurity more generally, why not have a confidential, no-obligation chat to the go to IT support team for London here at totality services?

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COVID-19 Update: Face-to-face IT meetings have been temporarily replaced with Microsoft Teams sessions, and our engineers will be able to carry out IT assessments remotely.