The security of our home office is something that we take for granted.
Think about the last time you were in a large corporate office. Maybe there was a security guard as you entered the building? No doubt there were a couple of security cameras? And maybe they even had an ID checkpoint or security access lock before you could get to the main office?
In comparison, only a third of UK homes have a security system (burglar alarm or camera) and most home offices do not have a security lock or security door to protect the equipment inside.
Whilst we aren’t suggesting that you turn your home into the Hatton Garden vaults, it is worth remembering that good security can keep your business safe, your insurance premiums down and ensure that you do not lose the irreplaceable; whether through theft, fire, or brand reputation.
So what are the biggest threats to your home office security?
Physical Threats; risks associated with unauthorised access to your home office
Cyber Threats; risks associated with unauthorised access to your home network
Behavioural Threats; risks associated with user driven errors
Homes with surveillance (security cameras or lighting) are three times less likely to be targeted by thieves. Despite this only a third of households have security and less than a quarter are predicted to be protecting a property that has a home office.
Home office insurance is becoming increasingly common, given the wider range of protection this offers businesses than standard home insurance with business protection. Now is the time to double check the value of your home office assets and see whether you have sufficient cover (remembering that some of the actions mentioned in this blog will help reduce premiums). Installing power surge protection at this time will better secure your electronics from power surges that may occur in the home.
Home offices on the ground floor of a property are a desirable target for thieves so, if you are unable to relocate your office, a locked cabinet is a necessity for your home office protection. There is a rise in home offices installing safes and security cabinets, as a way of protecting laptops, external hard drives and critical business documents that cannot yet be securely shredded. Industrial shredding for your documents and data is 100% guaranteed to prevent the reconstruction of data; having this regularly collected will better protect you from crimes of opportunity.
Cyber Threats have been on the rise for the past decade and have increased by six-times their usual level during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cyber criminals are constantly attacking our systems (directly or indirectly), seeking routes through your protections to gain access to your network.
Practising online and identity security is a first step in combating these cyber criminals; keeping antivirus protection up to date, leaving firewalls in place, and using a variety of complex passwords (and password managers) will deflect most attacks.
Arguably this doesn’t go far enough, with 45% of home office networks believed to be infected with malware. We are now seeing the rise of data encryption, two-factor authentication, and virtual private networks to overcome network security shortfalls.
It is also worth reviewing weak points in ‘connected devices’ that may enable access to your home office network. Has the default password on your internet been changed? Are you using ‘smart’ products with known security weaknesses? Many people are now bringing additional secure routers into their home office to combat emerging flaws in smart technology.
The innocuous actions with the potential for staggering consequences; the child you let play on your device who downloads a virus, the toddler in your home office that accidentally pulls out a wire and causes a data corruption incident, the email you opened that gave a cybercriminal access to your computers.
All of these are innocent activities that we undertake in our everyday lives, but the consequences can be severe where our businesses are concerned.
Whilst not everyone can afford multiple devices for both personal and work use, we strongly recommend that no one other than the business user is permitted to use a device with business access. Keeping passwords private should prevent access happening without your knowledge and consider whether using your business email for personal activity is advisable; threats targeting you personally can have much greater consequences if they can easily reach your business.
A home office sanctuary is wishful thinking for many households. Whilst we do recommend that no one other than the business user has access to the home office, we do recognise that it’s not always simple to shut the office door and close out the world. Therefore, ensure that regular backups are running, you are taking advantage of remote storage for your files, and that any cables are secured off the floor where they cannot be accidentally pulled or broken.
Local “business watch” communities (the business version of a neighbourhood watch) are great tools for keeping ahead of potential threats in your local area and adapting to prevent crime. This is simply one way of keeping ahead of common threats that ‘scam’ businesses, but we do also recommend that you leverage resources such as getsafeonline.org to educate yourself on common scams that target businesses.
Every business is different, and every home office security setup will have different requirements. Conducting a risk assessment for your business will help identify the priority areas for keeping your home office secure; for most this is amplifying the visible security of your property, investing in fireproof & lockable storage, and increasing your awareness of common threats targeted at business owners.
It's also worth noting that many large corporations have introduced paperless and clear desk policies in order to minimise the effect of documentation falling into the wrong hands, becoming lost or being destroyed in error.
These simple solutions can increase your security and your peace of mind, by knowing you’ve undertaken reasonable steps to protect your business.
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