Online Safety Tips for Remote Work
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Online Safety Tips for Remote Work

With the ongoing spread of Coronavirus and the huge lack of government preparedness, many companies are instituting mandatory or optional “remote work” or “work from home” policies. These give staff the ability to stay home during periods of self-isolation, but also present new technology and privacy challenges. Here are a few of the most common scenarios that you might face during this time.

These tips don’t just apply to emergency remote work scenarios – they’re great to keep in mind when dealing with corporate & personal devices.

Remote Work on Corporate Devices

Don’t do anything personal on your company-issued device. You should assume that anything you do – checking personal email, watching Netflix, logging into social media – can and will be monitored and logged. Many organizations have policies against personal use of company devices, and this can get you in trouble with HR. (Remember, HR doesn’t exist to protect you – it’s there to protect the company.)

This goes doubly if your job has you connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access its servers or applications. Most VPNs are set up to route all Internet traffic through your company. As a result, they can see in real-time what you’re browsing.

Even if that’s not the case, remote management software enables a company to check your browsing history. Companies will have differing levels of monitoring. You can check with a friend in the IT department to see what they do or don’t do, but always err on the side of caution and keep it separate.

Remote Work on Personal Devices

Don’t do work on your personal device if at all possible. If your company is encouraging remote work, they should be providing you with all the tools you need to do it. Not only is it good security for you, it’s also good security for them!

On top of that, work on your personal device infringes on your work-life balance. Every email or Slack notification that comes in just disrupts your personal time.

If that’s unavoidable, the rule about the VPN above still applies: If your company has you install VPN software on your home computer, don’t do anything personal while you’ve got it connected. You don’t need your employer seeing what websites you’re going to.

If your employer wants you to install a MDM profile or management certificate on your personal phone or computer, you should outright refuse if at all possible. These profiles give the company much of the same access they have to your personal computer as if it were their own company-owned device.

Finally, Remember to Have Compassion

You’re probably lucky to have a job that you can do remotely. Consider workers who don’t have this ability – nurses, service sector workers, rideshare drivers, etc – and be good to them in this difficult time. Solidarity with those in our class will go a long way in getting through this together.