Working remotely can come with some risks, not only for yourself, but also for your customers. Connecting to public Wi-Fi can sometimes be a necessity if you plan to work remotely, but it can also be a gateway for hackers. While having the personal information of your clients on your computer, chances are a hacker could take down your business if they choose, and public Wi-Fi makes it even easier for them.
Not everyone has the option of skipping work while they’re traveling though, and some may even work entirely from home, so what are they to do? Well, the answer is easier than you think, and it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time or money. Here’s how you can protect your customers’ data while working remotely.
Use an Anti-Virus Program
It’s likely that you’ve heard of anti-virus programs before, as new computers usually come with a free trial of one. However, with those, you’ll be asked to pay after a certain period of time and many decide not to (and rightfully so!). The problem is that if you don’t pay up, your computer is unprotected until you either cave in and fork over the cash or end up installing a new program.
Anti-virus programs don’t have to cost you any money; you can get them for free if you know where to look. A couple free options are Zone Alarm Free Antivirus, Panda Free Antivirus, Avast!, and AVG. All of these serve their purpose quite well and also offer apps for your smartphone or tablet.
Combine It for Ultimate Security
Although an anti-virus program can serve its main purpose and protect you from viruses, it can’t do everything. Combine it with a VPN though, and your device will be good to go when it comes to preventing hackers from gaining access to your computer; it can especially help when you can’t avoid using public Wi-Fi. If you’re not yet familiar with what a VPN is, it’s a Virtual Private Network.
When you connect to the VPN, your internet connection becomes encrypted, which makes it nearly impossible for hackers to get into your device. An encryption takes a lot of man power and time to crack, so it’s doubtful that anyone is going to bother putting the effort in to do so. Another thing that makes a VPN secure is that it hides your IP address.
Your IP address is hidden because the VPN is a remote server that you route your internet traffic through; when you connect to it, the VPN’s IP address, as well as its location, will be shown instead of yours. This feature of a VPN is even more useful when you’re traveling, because certain websites are geo-restricted, meaning they will be blocked if you are attempting to access them from certain locations.
The encryption of the VPN offers a secure connection for you to protect your customers’ data while getting your work done remotely, even if you have to use public Wi-Fi. For less than $15 per month, you can subscribe to a VPN service. Many are less than $10 per month and can even be used on your smartphone or tablet; ExpressVPN is a good choice if you plan to use the VPN on more than one device.
Don’t Share or Leave Your Device Unattended
Although an anti-virus program and VPN can do the majority of the work when it comes to protecting your customers’ data, there are still some ways that nefarious fellows can get into this information. If you’re traveling or taking any device that contains personal info with you while on the go, it would be wise to never leave it unattended; on that note, never share your computer either, especially when it contains your customers’ data. Though not necessarily as likely as the hacker scenario, someone could take off with your computer or smartphone if they see it lying around.
If you absolutely must leave it unattended, consider installing anti-theft protection, such as a program called Prey. Prey is $15 or less per month and will work for your laptop, smartphone, or tablet, is packed with anti-theft features (such as the ability to find your device or wipe the data off of it when stolen) that are sure to come in handy.
Certain files can be password protected, and of course, your computer or smartphone can be as well. Set up password protection for all of your devices and files which contain important information. Also, if you’re using your own Wi-Fi connection, make sure that you have it secured with a passcode.
Speaking of security, avoid allowing your web browser to remember your passwords for websites, as it’s another easy entry point into your personal data for hackers or even anyone who gets their hands on your computer. You’ll also want to avoid using the same password for more than one account and check their strength. A strong password will contain numbers and uppercase letters, as well as symbols when possible, and be at least 8 characters long.
Keep a Backup
Since you’re working remotely, you might even own your own business, which has its own website. If so, it’s extremely important that you back up your website in order to prevent the loss of any important data. The same goes for your files on your computer or phone, as they might have the information of your customers on them as well.
For help backing up your website, refer to the “Help” section of your webhost’s page. As for your computer, if you’re using Windows, you can find the “Backup and Restore” section by clicking Start, and then accessing “Control Panel.” You can find more information about backing up your files by taking a look at either Microsoft’s or Apple’s website. There are also many helpful guides available, which you can find with a simple Google search.
Know Your Way around the Net
Not much can help if you end up falling victim to an online scammer. This is why it’s important that you know some of the basics of how you can stay safe online. Always check hyperlinks before you click on them by hovering your cursor over the text.
Other than that, it would be best for you to avoid clicking on any links you receive from email addresses that you are unfamiliar with, especially if the email suggests that you can receive money by doing so. Learn how to determine whether or not an email or website sounds or looks suspicious; your main question should be “Is this how this person usually types?” or “Does this website usually look this way?”
Lastly, never share your personal banking information or passwords, even if a supposed potential client or business partner is asking for it.
No matter where you’re working, protecting your customers’ information should be one of your top priorities. Not only will keeping their info safe keep your business running as it should, but it will also create a trustworthy relationship between you and the client, making them more likely to work with you again and recommend your business to others.
Cassie Phillips is a blogger for www.securethoughts.com, an internet security website that offers both news and information for those looking to safe-guard their devices.
Stephanie Grams, Ohio Blog Lady helps you create a beautiful, money making blog. Stephanie offers blogging solutions to new, seasoned and struggling blogpreneurs. Call Stephanie 812.827.8739 to schedule your blog consultation or visit her website StephanieGrams.com
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