Many companies routinely issue smartphones, tablets, and laptops for their employees, allowing them to work anywhere and anytime. However, once those devices leave the relative safety of the office, they become a vulnerability in the network. And remote workers are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks because of the amount of sensitive data they carry with them.
Keeping those devices secured is of paramount importance to network security. Many organizations undergo penetration testing to probe for weaknesses in their networks, but some don’t extend the same attention to company devices. In the wrong hands, stolen information could put your business at grave risk.
The best way to protect sensitive data is to recognize the risks and take the necessary precautions.
1. Only bring essential data
If you’re going on a work trip, make it a point to reduce the amount of data you’ll bring with you to the absolute essentials. If there are sensitive files stored on your computer that you won’t need for the trip, transfer them to an external drive or a cloud storage service such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
Don’t forget to make backups of your data as well. Some external drives have an auto-sync function that you can set and forget. Making this a habit can keep your data out of your competitors’ hands.
2. Boost device security
At the very least, your devices should be password-protected. While biometric authentication is more convenient, it is also less secure, so better stick to alphanumeric passcodes and passwords.
Choose a long password for both your laptop and mobile device, and make sure no two passwords are alike. Ideally, a password should contain a mixture of numbers, special characters, and uppercase and lowercase letters. Finally, check if your mobile device has an auto-lock feature to protect your data in case the device is stolen.
Consider installing third-party security software as well. Apart from the usual scanning and detection, look for software that offers device location tracking and a remote lock-and-wipe function.
3. Avoid public Wi-Fi
Do not connect your devices to public networks. Public Wi-Fi in places such as airports, hotels, and restaurants are common targets for cybercriminals. If you need to access the Internet and your device doesn’t have LTE connectivity, look for a WPA or WPA2-encrypted network. WEP-encrypted networks are less secure but are still better than unsecured networks.
If you have a mobile device, you can create a private hotspot that you can use for Internet connectivity. Make sure your hotspot is password-protected, and if possible, hidden to other users.
4. Adjust device settings
Some mobile devices automatically scan for open Wi-Fi networks, so make sure that your Wi-Fi is manually set to off. Turn off Bluetooth connectivity as well, primarily if you use Bluetooth-enabled devices, as many cybercriminals hijack headsets to gain access to your computer.
These pointers will help you protect your devices and data. Cybercriminals are always looking for opportunities to infiltrate your company network, so never leave your devices alone, even for a minute. Most importantly, always be vigilant and think before clicking on any link.