IT security: Securing devices at home and work

October 15, 2020

This is the second in a series of four articles about cybersecurity from the Department of IT.

This year, people across the country experienced a major disruption in the way many work, learn and socialize online. Our homes and businesses are more connected than ever. These two internet-connected environments - home and business -- are colliding on a scale we've never seen before, introducing a whole new set of potential vulnerabilities.

Advancements in technology have ensured that work is more portable than ever. Smartphones, laptops, tablets -- these types of devices enable us to transport data, share information and stay connected from just about anywhere.

It's important to realize, however, that taking your work "to go" has inherent risks. When you leave the relatively secure confines of your office space, your devices and data are more exposed.

In order to ensure you stay safe when working outside the office, consider these rules of thumb:

  • Don't leave your devices unattended in public places. When traveling or outside the office for any reason, you must keep your devices with you.
  • Lock your laptop when you leave it. Whether you're getting up to go to the restroom, getting a cup of coffee at the office, or maybe stepping away from your work laptop at home while your kids are around, remember to lock your computer system.
  • Restrict access to your work devices. This is an effective first line of defense and one you should use for all your electronic devices. Thieving aside, there are people -- even co-workers -- who look for opportunities to snoop on emails, contact lists and confidential files. A password or PIN can deter this type of behavior. Make sure you also are using multi-factor authentication when available.
  • Think before you download. Some items belong on your work devices, but others do not. Portability is a concern because the more mobile the device, the more prone it is to loss and theft. It's also important to remember that employer devices -- laptops, tablets and mobile phones -- are likely to provide access points to a corporate network, and maintaining the integrity of that access is critical.

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