Protecting Your Employees’ Home IT From Cyberthreats

Increasingly, corporations are realizing that helping employees protect their home IT reduces risks to the company. Depending on the organization’s policies, employees may work with sensitive data or interact with self-service HR platforms remotely, and securing employees’ home technology is in the best interest of the enterprise.

Most companies have corporate training programs that can reach the entire workforce, and many IT and security professionals are already providing employees with information on how to operate corporate resources securely. It may seem like a natural step to extend those corporate training mechanisms to employees’ homes, but just like every company’s IT is unique, so is every home configuration. However, there are enough commonalities to at least create a general home IT security framework.

Best Practices for Home IT Security

I’ve culled the best practices below from years of experience in defending against dynamic threats. These tips can help empower your employees to protect their personal information and systems at home as rigorously as they do at work.

Understand the Threat

All employees should realize that the threat of a data breach is dynamic because bad actors constantly change their techniques. Malicious code is one of the biggest threats to home users. Many computer virus infections today are designed to steal information from any machine they can land on, and their code continuously evolves to render it undetectable by antivirus solutions. Given the volatile nature of these threats, home IT users must understand the importance of evolving their defenses to match.

Patching Makes Perfect

Update and patch operating systems, applications and antivirus/antimalware software. This reduces multiple risks, minimizes exploitable vulnerabilities and accounts for the increasing sophistication of malicious code.

Enable MFA for All Accounts

Use multifactor authentication (MFA) for all accounts, including cloud services and email accounts that are used at home. This is one of the most important things home users can do to mitigate risks to personal information. If an account does not offer MFA, consider closing it.

Learn how to Upgrade your security with mobile multi-factor authentication

Adopt a Password Manager

Leverage a reputable password manager. This can help keep all your passwords up to date and secure, and generally make your online life easier. These apps automatically create more secure passwords, eliminating the need to memorize multiple complex credentials.

Down With Default Passwords

Change the default password on every device at home, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as security cameras, baby monitors, thermostats, tablets, smart TVs, laptops and PCs. Make sure to set screen timeouts and passwords protection on smartphones as well.

Leverage Managed DNS Services

Use a managed Domain Name System (DNS) service to help prevent accidental navigation to websites that have been taken over by malicious actors. A managed DNS service can also help stop communications from malicious code in home systems and speed up internet browsing.

Prepare for Nightmare Scenarios

Home users get attacked every day. As you read this, someone is dealing with a ransomware attack and deciding whether to pay an expensive ransom to recover their files. Someone else is being hit with a malicious virus that simply destroys data, including precious memories. Home users should think through these nightmare scenarios and consider what to do when they hit, including backing up data offsite via a cloud-based solution.

Awareness Is Your Greatest Asset

The most important thing home IT users can do is to stay informed of these dynamic cyberthreats and increase their awareness of adversary capabilities. This will help them improve system defenses at home and make better decisions at work.

No matter what business you are in, your employees are your greatest resource. These days, they are all fighting to keep their home IT secure, and it’s time for enterprise technology leaders to step in and offer a helping hand. Doing so will help protect your corporate assets and boost the productivity of your employees.

Listen to the podcast: Social Engineering 101 — How to Hack a Human

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Bob Gourley is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm. He is the publisher of CTOvision.com and ThreatBrief.com and is also a co-founder and partner of Cognitio. At Crucial Point, Bob provides CTO Services and Due Diligence Consulting. Bob's first career was as a naval intelligence officer, which included operational tours in Europe and Asia. Bob was the first Director of Intelligence (J2) at DoD's cyber defense organization JTF-CND. Following retirement from the Navy Bob was an executive with TRW and Northrop Grumman, and then returned to government service as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Bob was named one of the top 25 most influential CTOs in the globe by Infoworld. He was selected for AFCEAs award for meritorious service to the intelligence community, and was named by Washingtonian as one of DC's "Tech Titans." Bob was named one of the "Top 25 Most Fascinating Communicators in Government IT" by the Gov2.0 community GovFresh. Bob was noted as "Most Influential on Twitter for Big Data" by Forbes. The blog he founded and publishes, CTOvision, is now ranked among the top 50 federal technology blogs.