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Simple Steps for Securing an Executive’s Home Office Cyber Security

By: BreachQuest

Home Office Security

Cyber security professionals have always been concerned with the security of executives’ home networks. Since the advent of laptops, corporate executives needed to take their work home and with it the organization’s sensitive data. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic making remote work a near-ubiquitous reality in the corporate world, the importance of home network security has taken a more center-stage position.

Corporate executives and their direct reports are high-value targets for cyber attackers. This means that when these personnel are working from home, it’s crucial to harden the security of their home wireless network and home offices to avoid compromise of sensitive data.  In 2020 the global market for home office security systems was estimated at $50.2 Billion USD. But by 2026 it is estimated to reach $68.2 Billion USD by 2026.

There is always a heightened risk of a security breach when it comes to remote access of corporate networks. This article discusses a few home security tips that even those who are less tech-savvy can take to help protect corporate assets when high-value targets are working remotely from home:

  • Securing home personal devices on a home network
  • Ensuring home Wi-Fi security
  • Being mindful of the home office space
  • Securing personal accounts, especially personal email
  • Responding to extortion and scam emails

Use Antivirus Software for Home Office Security

While you may not think of it, all of the personal mobile devices that access your home network could potentially have an impact on corporate network security. It becomes easier to compromise the device used to gain access to your corporate network from home when another device on your home network is compromised. To keep your home network more secure, take these steps:

  • Be sure that you have updated antivirus software and apply patches to all mobile devices that access your home network
  • Don’t allow the use of jailbroken mobile devices on your home network
  • Only install software from reliable sources such as Google Play and Apple Store

Security of Your Home’s Wireless Network

Internet service providers (ISPs) now commonly provide wireless routers integrated with modems. While these are great for convenience, they’re not so great for home network security. If your home’s wi-fi network uses one of these, you should get a separate wireless router and connect it to the modem provided by your ISP, and then connect your devices to that wireless router instead. Doing this will allow you to avoid any patching problems present in ISP-provided wireless routers implement a few simple configurations to better secure your home network.

  • Set your network name (SSID) to something nondescript that does not identify you
  • Make sure your network’s WPA-2 encryption has a complex password that is not easy to guess and especially is not based on other personal information such as your address or phone number
  • If remote administration, or “internet administration,” is enabled on your router, disable it.
  • It’s best to get a router that supports multiple networks and use separate networks for your home devices, including those of family members as well as yourself, and the device you use to access your corporate network and set up a guest network for visitors.
  • Look for a router that supports client isolation and use this feature for maximum wireless network security.

Security of Your Home Office

There are security risks associated with working from home beyond network access issues. When setting up your home office, be mindful of the positioning of your desk and monitors. Avoid being near windows that would be vulnerable to eavesdropping, and make sure that screens, especially of company devices, are not visible from windows. This includes ensuring they are not reflected in a mirror visible from a window. In fact, if there are windows in your home office, consider keeping them covered entirely with windows or blinds.

Securing your Official Social Media Accounts

A threat actor could damage relations with the public and impact morale if they get access to social media accounts, but the overall impact is likely limited. But many small and medium businesses rely on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn (among others) to communicate with the public.  It is imperative to keep it secure.  We suggested the Top 7 Tips for securing Official Social Media.

Ensuring Security of Your Personal Accounts

As with personal devices that access your home’s wireless network, personal accounts accessed on your home network can present security vulnerabilities. You can further secure your home network against malware, ransomware, and other intrusions by properly securing all personal accounts:

  • Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. Make sure that each of your personal accounts has a complex and unique password. A password manager can help you keep track of all those passwords.
  • For accounts that offer it, always use Multi-Factor Authentication, particularly for email accounts.
  • Be sure that all devices used to access your personal email have screen locks and passwords.
  • Use a webcam cover on your laptop or on any other device that has a camera.
  • If your home has any smart home devices such as a Google Home speaker or Amazon echo, unplug them when not in use.

Personal Email Attacks

Email is a common vector for cyber attacks. Cyber attackers are increasingly targeting the personal emails of executives and their direct reports. Should you receive an extortion or scam email on your via your corporate or personal email, do not respond. Report the incident directly to your information security team. Your security team will help you respond appropriately to the threat.

There are further measures that can be taken to shore up your home network security and avoid any compromises to the corporate network due to work-from-home arrangements. But these simple home security tips offer the biggest return on investment when it comes to achieving an elevated security posture while working from home.

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