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Working Remotely: Safe at Work, Safe at Home

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

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By Chetrice Mosley-Romero

You might not have noticed it on the calendar, but this week is National Home Office Safety and Security Week.

And while I’m not sure there’s a Hallmark card for the occasion, working from home is something we can celebrate when it comes to maintaining our productivity, while at the same time, making sure we’re getting our work done, safely and securely.

With more people than ever working remotely, the party is just getting started, given the fact that many businesses and organizations haven’t completely made up their mind as to where everyone is going to work in the long term. As all of that gets sorted out, there are 10 steps you can take to set up and maintain a cybersecurity-safe home office, including:

  • Only use company-issued devices
  • Use a VPN to reduce hacking risks
  • Work within company-approved software and tools
  • Keep software updated
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi
  • Don’t open suspicious emails
  • Change your password regularly
  • Set up boundaries for virtual meetings
  • Be cautious when sharing your screen
  • Practice good digital hygiene

Protecting your home office environment is important, too, for the fact that the frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks and cyber incidents continues to rise. According to recent data from the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA), a ransomware attack occurs every 11 seconds. Unfortunately, a lot of these incidents are the result of someone clicking on an unsecure link. Add to that, 95 percent of cybersecurity breaches are due to human error and compromised passwords are responsible for eight out of 10 security breaches.

Following these suggestions will help you stay organized with your work, but it’ll also help in managing your digital space at home.

As a side note, you might be interested to know that the whole idea (and potential benefits) of working from home was first created – more than 50 years ago – by a NASA engineer, Jack Nilles, who coined the term “telecommuting” from a publication he wrote entitled Telecommunications Transportation Tradeoff. An accomplished physicist, Nilles switched from being a rocket scientist to serving as a research director at the University of Southern California, a position that was created for him so he could follow his theory that remote working would be good for business and even better for the environment.

His nine-month study showed that worker productivity went up, health care costs went down, and infrastructure costs dropped. Also, the company who commissioned the study was going to save as much as $5 million. So, what happened? The company chose not to do it.

Maybe they were waiting to see what was going to happen with the World Wide Web.