Top tips on how to make working from home safe

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With more Americans working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s critical to make your home office secure.

At the office, your work is typically protected by firewalls, sophisticated backup strategies, secure software and on-site IT support, among other practices a company has established over time to insulate employees from honest oversights and malicious software.

When you shift to a home office, you still need safeguards to protect you from data breaches, viruses and cybercriminals.

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“There’s no question that working outside the workplace can increase cyber risk,” Elad Shapira, head of research at Panorays, a security management firm, told Fox News in an email. And it “raises the likelihood of introducing compromised devices into a company’s network,” Shapira added.

Here are some strategies to keep your workspace safe.

FIREWALLS

The first line of defense for many home users is a firewall. Make sure you enable or configure your router and modem firewall, Jason Smolanoff, senior managing director and cyber risk practice leader at Kroll, a risk solutions firm, told Fox News.

And change default administrator usernames and passwords on routers/modems, and any connected devices like a video doorbell, Smolanoff said. Also, turn on WPA2 or WPA3 encryption levels on your router and modem, he added.

PASSWORDS

Many computer users tend to reuse passwords. While convenient, it makes home-based workers vulnerable to hackers.

“Avoid password reuse. If your password is stolen from one site, you don’t want it to work for multiple sites,” Smolanoff said.

FRAUDULENT EMAIL

Be extra wary of a fraudulent email, as well as the links in emails in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Threats are “far more serious” than even in February, Colin Bastable, CEO at Lucy Security, told Fox News. “Over 90 percent of attacks are delivered via email,” Bastable said.

Double-check the validity of links before clicking, especially those purporting to provide information on the COVID-19 virus, Ralph Russo, an expert and director of information technology programs in Tulane University's School of Professional Advancement, told Fox News.

TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION

When using cloud services, make sure to enable two-factor authentication (TFA).

This provides a second layer of security that could be the critical failsafe to thwart hacking. Do this especially for financial sites and online file sharing, according to Kroll’s Smolanoff. And make sure TFA is enabled even for private email because a breach in a personal email could bleed through to the company.

ONLINE MEETINGS

With "Zoom-bombing" in the news, protect online meetings by using a password, asking every participant to identify themselves verbally and locking meetings after everyone has joined, Smolanoff said.

And don’t share meeting passwords on any forum open to the public. Zoom-bombing happens when attackers find publicly posted Zoom invite links, then join to screenshare pornography or other inappropriate content.

“Zoom's biggest advantage and its greatest weakness is in how its invite system works," Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate with Comparitech, told Fox News.

VPN

Make sure a properly-configured VPN (Virtual Private Network) is in place, said Panorays’s Shapira.

A VPN creates a secure tunnel. All data is encapsulated so that confidential information is protected when users send and receive data.

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