With the tech elite leading the way, businesses are in an arms race to protect their remote workers and the company data they have access to.

We looked at the best practices for good data hygiene.

1. Use a password manager

You’ve come up with a password that is the ideal length of 12-15 characters and Includes lowercase and uppercase alphabetic characters, numbers and symbols.

Problem is, you use this across multiple accounts.

A good password manager generates long, complex and unique passwords for your online accounts and stores them safely in encrypted cloud software.

Practically speaking, a password manager will do the heavy lifting for you. When you visit a website where you would normally type your login credentials, you type your master password into the password manager instead. If you’re already logged into the password manager, it will automatically fill the credentials for you.

When you research the various password management systems on the market, consider one that works across multiple devices and includes features such as the ability to store more than passwords, for example credit and membership cards.

Although password managers could become compromised like any other software, they generally provide a higher level of security compared to passwords created and managed by humans.

2. Use multi-factor authentication

You might be concerned with your online privacy after visiting haveibeenpwned.com and decide that you need to ramp up your security.

Multi-factor authentication is a security mechanism that comprises two or more factors to an authentication. These factors are knowledge, possession and inherence or in other words: something the user knows, something the user has and something the user is. Two-factor authentication is a subset of this.

An example of two-factor authentication could be a bank card and PIN; something in your possession and something you know. A third factor could be a fingerprint or voice.

Multi-factor authentication increases account security by requiring multiple forms of identification when signing in online and is a valuable tool to prevent data breaches.

3. Keep work and home separate

Data security is probably the last thing on your mind when you’re working from the comfort of your home. After all, you’re juggling both work tasks and household chores while family members and roommates are running around in the background.

Having separate laptops for work and personal use is a good starting point for staying secure. Try to limit your personal browsing to your personal laptop and, if you have the space for it, set up a dedicated workspace away from family members and roommates. Have a routine with set working hours and schedule your breaks to follow your office pattern.

Keeping your routines as ‘normal’ as possible will help you stay alert and get in a more disciplined mindset.

4. Protect your connection

If you’ve been working from home in 2020, you’re probably familiar with Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). If you’ve been working from home and you’ve never heard of a VPN, then your company’s data is probably a security risk.

A VPN creates an encrypted data tunnel between a user’s devices and a server connected to the internet, enabling employees to use the office network remotely as if their device was directly connected.

In addition to extra security, VPNs add mobility to businesses, giving employees the opportunity to work away from the office.

5. Be aware of phishing

During the coronavirus pandemic, security teams and IT departments have been working overtime to stay ahead of threats and scams. Creating stable remote work access for employees without compromising security has been a priority, but a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Phishing is the act of posing as a trustworthy entity to extract sensitive information through digital communication. Phishing attempts often come in the form of scam emails, text messages and phone calls that ask users to enter personal information on a fraudulent website.

Businesses should ensure that employees are educated about phishing to avoid costly incidents. Sharing the responsibility with employers, staff should stay vigilant by checking sender email addresses and only opening attachments if it’s an email from a known sender or domain.

6. Run regular updates

Out of date software is more vulnerable to attacks and malware and can give attackers a backdoor into your systems. Software updates often address security issues and include critical patches that protect against up-to-date cyber attacks.

While the main concern for businesses is security, software updates also improve functionality and usability. With more reliable work devices, employees are less likely to use their personal devices for anything business related, minimising the risk of breaches.

Maintain good digital hygiene by running regular updates and keep an inventory of all hardware and software. Enforcing regular password updates combined with other forms of access control is also critical in ensuring that your business’s data is secure.