Tips for staying safe while working remotely

    Most Americans who have the ability to work remotely have been doing so for the past several days, and it’s been quite an adjustment for many. Businesses that use Cloud-based software have been able to continue using most of their tools without difficulty while others are scrambling to find ways to share information and communicate as a team.

    If you’re looking for remote work solutions, check with your IT department first. Don’t search for software and download tools that may not fit your needs – or worse, present a security risk for you and your employer.

    Most businesses have communicated the resources that are available for their remote staff at this point. If you haven’t, it’s a good time to reach out to your manager to understand what’s available. No matter what your current situation is, here are 5 tips to help you stay safe while working remotely.

    Use company-provided software

    Try to use only software provided by your employer. This helps ensure that you’ll be able to receive support when needed and that the team providing support can actually help with problems. If you’re using a piece of software that isn’t a part of your business’s toolset, there’s a good chance that you’ll be on your own.

    If you’re in need of a particular piece of software, contact your IT department for assistance. It’s better to communicate questions or concerns than to try to find a solution online that can lead to more problems.

    Use corporate VPNs when possible

    A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a way to safely transmit information between your computer and your business’s network. When active, they create secure tunnels for information to travel back and forth and prevent information from being accessed by prying eyes.

    If you have the ability to connect to your business’s network via a VPN connection, you’re likely to be able to access most, if not all, of the resources you normally would. If you’re unsure if a VPN is available for use, contact your IT department for more information.

    Also, keep in mind that the type of VPN used to access a business’s network is different from the type used to maintain privacy online. Purchasing a personal VPN account will not enable you to access your business’s network.

    Create a verification plan

     If your work involves business finances, create a simple verification process around fund transfers with your coworkers to verify that communications are genuine.

    Many scammers are taking advantage of everything that’s going on for the sake of profit, and a simple phone call to verify the authenticity of a request can be the difference between business as usual (or at least as usual as it is right now) and financial disaster.

    Beware of scams

    Just as the number of scams surrounding financial transactions is increasing, so are phishing attempts designed to gain access to business information.

    Take precautions when reading emails, even if they appear to come from trusted senders. The same advice goes for any relief-related efforts that are making an appeal for funding – the money intend on donating to a charity may be going into a scammer’s pocket instead, so always double-check for authenticity before clicking on anything.

    Ask Questions

    One of the most important things we can do right now is to communicate with each other. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; you need information and the appropriate resources to handle your responsibilities, and most will be happy that you’re asking questions – especially your IT department.

    Do you have a question related to remote work, security, or anything related to how we’re supporting our clients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic? Ask away in the comments section below and we’ll answer them in an upcoming Q&A session with our staff!

    Matt has spent the better part of 2 decades building systems, managing IT departments, and developing websites and applications for the education, publishing, and technical service industries. As an MCSE...

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