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Don't Mix Business and Pleasure: Top Tips for Securely Working from Home

With telecommuting and freelance work from home on the rise, data security is a top priority. No working relationship could be improved by spreading malware and computer viruses from your home network to the corporate network of your employer or client. Simple steps and a few rules, however, can make all the difference:

  • Don’t mix business and pleasure. All cliches aside, when it comes to computing and data, your work life and your private life should not mix. Make the computer you use for business strictly for business -- no exceptions. No matter how innocuous it may seem to check your personal email from the work computer, opening the wrong email or viewing the wrong attachment is all that it could take to ruin weeks and months of work and damage the working relationships that you have invested so much time and hard work into.
  • You can’t trust your “smart” TV. Years ago working in the same room as a TV was never an issue (other than the effects it may have on productivity), but now our “smart” TVs are fully capable of spying on us, even when we think they are off. In addition to the familiar screen and remote, “smart” TVs include audio and video input devices (i.e., microphones and cameras) that could be used to surreptitiously spy on you, recording both audio and video data from their surroundings. And, turning the TV “off” makes little difference, as many electronic gadgets in our homes are no longer truly “off” unless disconnected completely from power. You may think they are off because their screens are blank, but in truth they are in a “standby” state, which may mean they are “asleep” (like your laptop, when you don’t press a key for a while) or it may mean simply that they are not emitting picture or sound (but fully functional in other aspects). So, set up your workspace, including where you take telephone calls, in a different room from where your TV is, preferably with a closed door in between (microphones can be surprisingly sensitive). If you must work in the same room as your TV, unplug it from the electrical outlet while you are working to be certain that it is truly “off.”
  • Good fences make good neighbors. This is also true in a computing environment. Just as you wouldn’t want your neighbor to have full access to your house, you don’t want your non-work computing equipment (i.e., your “smart” TV, entertainment system, smartphone or fridge) to have access to your work computer, as any such access inherently equals security risk. While you could go through the effort and expense of setting up a completely separate network for your work equipment, a more efficient and economical plan would be to use LateralAccessDevice from IPCopper to segregate the different parts of your home computing network from each other, thereby preventing unrelated devices from chatting with each other and getting up to no good. In this way, you can ensure that a security flaw in your “smart” TV won’t lead to an embarrassing or costly compromise of your work computer and that your kids’ careless internet habits won’t infest your whole network with pesky and damaging malware and spyware. LateralAccessDevice can further restrict the timing and type of communications you allow for each device on your home network, for example, so that your work computer is only working when you are (and your kids can’t watch youtube all night long).

Taking a few simple, yet practical steps will set you on the right path for working from home, without endangering your employer’s computer system or your peace of mind at a price we are not afraid to tell you up front. Now if we could only find a way to keep the kids from interrupting….

LAD: LateralAccessDevice is software that turns a computer chassis into a high-performance, multi-purpose Internet / network tool that combines multi-dimensional firewalling, network monitoring, access control, packet capture, DNS, NAT and a host of other applications into one easy to use, integrated, high-security package. LAD takes you back to before the Internet!