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Strengthening the Internet 17 March 2020

Working from Home: Keeping It Secure and Private

By Rajnesh SinghFormer Regional Vice President - Asia-Pacific

With the global efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus underway, we’re seeing an unprecedented disruption of day-to-day operations across virtually all work sectors.

Coronavirus coverage is dominating headlines as more country borders, schools, major events and public venues are shut down in hopes of flattening the infection curve. Likewise, companies around the world are making tough calls to prioritize employee safety with business continuity in mind.

But thanks to the Internet, many workplaces are rapidly adapting operations to do their part and accommodate for what may soon become a new normal: remote working.

There are no shortage of web-based applications and services that allow us to continue core functions like meetings and collaboration that we’d do in an office-based setting. And not just the proverbial meeting that could have been an email.

But how do we ensure confidentiality when working remotely? There are some simple ways businesses and employees can ensure they are protecting themselves and their workplaces from malicious actors.

The answer is simple: encryption.

Encryption is the process of scrambling or enciphering data so it can be read only by someone with the means to return it to its original state.

It allows all our online digital communications to be secure and confidential, and should be a key part of your systems, devices, and applications. You may not realize it, but encryption is already a part of our daily life in many ways.

Luckily there are already many services with built-in use of encryption technology for just about everything you would need to work remotely. This includes web conferencing services for meeting, instant messaging platforms to chat with colleagues, and online collaboration tools for team assignments and shared file storage. There are even services that help you guarantee the right person is giving you their signature on a document or contract.

Another easy way to secure your remote work space is by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your connection to a company’s systems, including when you are on a shared public WiFi network. These are available for just about any device – from smartphones to tablets to PCs.

No matter what software application, service, or app you are using, make sure it is keeping your data and communications safe with end-to-end encryption. Not all applications and services use it, but you can check with your vendor or service provider. And if end-to-end encryption is not being used, switch to something that does.

While working remotely, you want to be certain that your online interactions are secure from prying eyes and that data is not compromised. Encryption helps provide those safeguards.

As well, be vigilant for messages and links you may receive pretending to be COVID-19 related information, but in reality are scams and malware. There are already a number of these in circulation using emails, as well as apps with malicious intentions.

Learn about more ways you can be secure when working remotely.

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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