This is a guest post for the MELD Coworking blog written by Nathan Sharpe.
If you work remotely, you will probably agree that your laptop is one of your most prized possessions. Not only does it hold all of your important data, but it is also your main bread and butter in order to complete your tasks and deliver your jobs.
The mobility offered by laptops also makes them ideal for remote workers because you don’t need to constrain yourself inside a single location to do your work. You can either work from home, travel around, work in a café or like many people choose to do, settle in a coworking space.
When bringing your laptop to work in a public place, it is quite important to ensure that you employ essential measures to keep it secure. This will lower your risks of misplacing it or getting your data compromised. Here are some helpful ways you can do that when working remotely.
1. Choose a coworking space with security measures
Coworking spaces offer many advantages including ergonomic workstations equipped with your required facilities, affordability, and networking opportunities. At the same time, being in such a space allows you to work without the usual household distractions. But always keep in mind that not all coworking spaces are created equal.
Find a coworking space that has security cameras installed, secured entry points, and access cards to members. A space that employs in-house staff like a receptionist that can attend to transient employees and visitors will also ensure that not just anyone can come and go without proper authorisation. Having these features will give you peace of mind that you are in a safe working environment.
2. Use strong passwords, anti-malware, and encryption tools
The most valuable thing about your laptop is the data that it holds within. This is the reason why it is important to secure your data along with securing your physical machine. When you are working remotely, protecting your data from potential breaches should always be a priority.
In order to secure your laptop from a data breach, here are some useful tips:
- Utilise strong passwords for your physical machine, emails, and online accounts. This will give it an extra layer of security in case you leave your laptop unattended for some time. Avoid using your birthday, names of family members, and consecutive letters/numbers (ex: 12345678, abc123, qwerty) as these can easily be hacked.
- Install an anti-malware program on your machine. Always scan USB devices that you connect to your laptop for malware, even if it is from a trusted source.
- Don’t fall prey to clickbait emails. Statistics show why you should keep your laptop safe from these malicious messages as more than 90% of malware is delivered via email.
- Have your data encrypted to restrict unauthorised access. If you are using Cloud technology and other online-based applications, select those that have end-to-end encryption features.
3. Constantly update your devices
When working in a traditional office environment, you normally have the luxury of having IT personnel to support you. As a remote worker, this is not always an option, unless of course, you’re a tech whiz yourself. If you are a start-up entrepreneur or a non-tech freelancer, updating your laptop is probably the least of your concerns. Most times, installing software updates is considered a tedious task because not a lot of people realise that this is actually a very important practice.
Software updates usually include important security features and patches that fix the weaknesses or vulnerabilities in your current applications. Outdated applications are more prone to security flaws that could result in a data breach. By making sure your software is updated, you are also keeping the hackers out.
To make software updates less bothersome, what you can do is utilise business process automation techniques. Business process automation refers to the use of technology to streamline tasks and minimise manual work. If you often forget to do updates, it is better to automate this process by scheduling automatic updates at a specific time during your low-peak hours. This will ensure that your applications are always updated without you having to remember whether you’ve done it yet or not.
4. Always be mindful of your stuff and environment
Many remote workers are already regulars of coworking spaces, meaning they are already able to build a community with people who trust and support one another. Having a mix of people that you can interact with is always an advantage especially if you are a remote worker because you don’t have to be isolated all the time. Additionally, it’s also a great way to network amongst other professionals. Because of this, it is not uncommon for many remote workers to feel overconfident that their things are always safe.
Even if you feel secure in your usual coworking space, be mindful that you are still in a public space. Not everyone in the coworking space will always be a regular as there are those who only come for a few days. Therefore, don’t be too casual about leaving your laptop out of your sight for long periods of time and always lock your laptop screen even if you’re just standing up to chat at the next desk. This is to ensure the information displayed on your screen is protected from people who might be passing by.
If you’re only leaving your desk for a short while, such as to get coffee or use the restroom, make sure to check who’s seated around you first. If possible, ask someone you know to look over your things. If you don’t really know the people seated around you, keep your laptop in a locked drawer or better yet, take it with you.
Being on the safe side
Working remotely has a lot of advantages. It allows you to be productive in any environment that you choose to be in. When working in a public space with a rotating mix of people, it is however quite important to ensure that you always keep yourself and your belongings secure. Taking the time to follow these recommendations will go a long way in making your remote working experience safe and rewarding one.
Nathan Sharpe is a business advisor and business writer at Biznas. He has helped many clients solve their business problems, and now imparts his advisory knowledge onto others to help them improve their businesses too.