From brainstorming with your dog to showering on your lunch break, the joys of working from home are among the many perks that a growing number of hard-working entrepreneurs enjoy. With today's latest time-saving gadgets, such as smart pens and pocket projectors, as well as health-promoting contraptions like treadmill desks, running a successful business in your PJs is easier than ever.
You may have used an iPhone app like CamScanner to maximize record-keeping efficiency, or Square to accept payments and manage your finances. Free collaboration software like Skype and GoToMeeting even lets you meet with employees or clients from multiple locations across the country, using your built-in laptop or tablet Web cam. After all, every penny counts when you're a startup.
Leveraging these internet-connected devices can grow your business by leaps and bounds. But did you know that 60 percent of internet attackers target small- and medium-size businesses, putting your livelihood at risk? Entrepreneurs who work from home are more vulnerable to hackers and viruses because home offices usually don't carry the same level of internet protection as larger enterprises.
Einaras Gravrock, CEO of CUJO, a smart home security device that protects the connected home, has these five tips for hack-proofing your home office so you can focus on growing your business, instead of worrying about cybersecurity.
1. Set strong passwords.
Use passwords that are at least 12 characters long, have upper and lower case letters, and contain symbols and numbers. Do this and it will most likely take more than a year for a malicious hacker to decrypt your new password. "Start by changing your computer and router passwords," says Gravrock. "Change them frequently, at least four times a year. Make sure no one can guess your password based on your Facebook and other social media posts."
2. Protect your router.
Make sure your router has a strong WPA2 password--not just the network password, but the actual router password as well. Hide your network from appearing in the network list.
3. Update your software.
When a notification appears to update software, do it right away. Avoid the temptation to just hit "install and restart later" for the next three weeks. This especially applies to your security software and router firmware.
4. Disconnect devices when they’re not in use.
This may not be realistic for some, but for devices housing your most important personal and proprietary information, such as your laptop, do your best. This includes smartphones!
5. Avoid public internet networks.
You know how, when you connect to Starbucks's Wi-Fi, it makes you "accept the terms" of agreement before it lets you log in? It's basically saying that you are completely unprotected from any and all malware and hackers out there. You have no firewall and no router protection, since you're connecting to a shared, public network. That means, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Go straight to the fiery pit of the blue screen of death and viruses.
Some of these suggestions may seem tedious or inconvenient, but it's worth it. I will admit, however, that I struggle with No. 5 since I enjoy working outside of my office. What about you?