In recent years, the boundaries between work life, home life and student life have become harder to see.
Wherever Case Western Reserve users are, they take with them the computers and mobile devices that access university systems and data. University Technology’s Information Security Office has compiled some tips for securing those devices, to ensure that even at a distance, the resources that support the university’s academic, research and administrative missions are protected.
Put cybersecurity first
Make cybersecurity a priority in your professional or student roles. Routines that maintain good online hygiene include performing regular software updates, enabling multi-factor authentication, and using personal devices instead of work-provided ones to access non-work related sites. Stay abreast of cybersecurity news as it relates to your university life and your personal life. The university publishes security news relevant to the community in The Daily, and outside security news sources should be consulted regularly.
Secure your home network
When you connect a work device to your home network, be sure that your home network itself is secure. Spend some time getting to know what’s normal, and what seems out of order for your devices. Work with your internet service provider, a trusted vendor, or a technical friend to ensure that your wireless access point or modem is secure. One simple but powerful security step is to use a complex Wi-Fi passphrase that is different from the default password.
Make passwords and passphrases long and strong
Whether or not the website you are on requires it, be sure to combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a complex password that is not easy for someone else to guess. If the website or app allows it, the university recommends using a passphrase instead. Short passwords and passwords that use common dictionary words and simple substitutions are easy to hack. Don’t believe it? Check your passwords against the top 200 most common passwords, and if it’s not on that list, see if your password is among the top 10,000. If you need help remembering and storing your passwords, we recommend using a password manager for assistance.
Smart devices need smart security
Make cybersecurity a priority when connecting devices to any network, whether at home, at work or around town. When setting up a new device, whether it’s a new tablet or a smart refrigerator, be sure to configure the privacy and security settings on the device itself, bearing in mind that you can limit who you are sharing information with. Once your device is set up, get in the habit of keeping tabs on how secure the information is that you store on it, and to actively manage location services so as not to unwittingly expose your location.
Don’t trust free Wi-Fi or public computers
While working from home, you may be tempted to change scenery and work from a coffee shop or another type of public space. If you must connect to free Wi-Fi, always use a VPN to secure your online activity. Do not access personal accounts on a public computer, such as your email, online bank service, or health accounts. Make sure that security is top of mind always, and especially while working in a public setting, by keeping activities as generic and anonymous as possible.
Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when idle
The uncomfortable truth is, when Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are on, criminals can connect to your devices, track your whereabouts or collect data about you. To stay as safe as possible, if you do not need them, switch them off. It’s a simple step that can help alleviate tracking concerns and incidents.
These are just a few simple steps toward achieving the best online safety possible from any location. Staying safe online is an active process that requires constant overseeing at every stage—from purchasing and setting up a device, to making sure that your day-to-day activities are not putting anyone at risk. By following these steps, you are doing your part to keep yourself and your company safe from malicious online activity.