How to Protect Your Privacy When Working from Home

There are many reasons why people choose to work from home. Avoiding a daily commute, and being able to spend more time with their children are just two benefits that make working from your spare room sound like an attractive option. However, there are potential risks to working from home that make keeping your private and professional lives separate an absolute must. Here are a few precautions work-from-homers should be taking to keep their private lives safe and secure.

Protecting yourself at home

 

1. A separate mailbox

People who run their own company from home should consider getting a different mailbox for their business. PO boxes are available at the Post Office, or they can be rented from larger shipping companies. Mailboxes can be found online or in the Yellow Pages, are relatively inexpensive to rent, and provide a good first line of protection by differentiating between your private and professional addresses.

 

2. A dedicated phone number

Along the same lines as above, a separate phone number for the work from home business is also a good idea. A request can be made to the phone company not to publish your private number in their directories, and to omit your home address. This will ensure that no one turns up at your door unannounced, no matter how innocent their motives.

 

3. Separate email accounts

Setting up a separate email account for your home-based business also makes a lot of sense. There are a number of online companies with websites that let work-from-homers set up separate, professional email accounts completely free of charge.

 

4. Meet clients on neutral ground

If your business requires meeting with clients and customers in person, arranging to meet at a location other than your home is a sound security policy. Most clients will consider meeting at a cafe to discuss business over a coffee, or at a restaurant for a light lunch, totally acceptable. For larger gatherings, local hotels generally offer meeting rooms to seat any number of participants.

 

Protecting yourself online

 

Depending on the kind of business they run, people who work from home will spend a lot of time connected to the Internet via their computer. It is essential to install antivirus and antispyware software to protect your business files and any client information you keep stored on the computer.

 

Also, as a home entrepreneur, you should never reveal any personal or financial information online unless you trust the person you're sharing that kind of highly sensitive information with. Work-from-homers should also keep an eye on their kids if they use the same computer for work and play. Younger, inexperienced Internet users might download malicious software by accident, or open a strange email and allow a virus or spyware to be placed on your hard drive.

 

Protecting yourself when using a smartphone

 

The mobile ability of today's generation of smartphones makes the devices a considerable and useful asset when running a business from the bedroom. And if we're honest, they are also great to relax with a neat little app when we need to unwind from the stress and strain of running a company. But if the phone is used for both business and pleasure, here's a few things to watch out for:

 

1. Be aware of strange permission requests

If, for example, a Sudoku app is asking to access your photos and camera, ask yourself why? If a flashlight app needs to know your location, just say no. When an app asks for permissions, it should clearly state what it needs to access and why. And if you do grant an app access to say, your microphone, your camera or some other privacy setting, remember that you can always withdraw that permission at a later date.

 

2. Know where your download is coming from

Unless you're an expert, never install apps from a download site other than Google's or Apple's app stores. Both these companies work really hard to keep the applications safe. Downloading from unreliable sources will often involve disabling the security settings on your phone that are there primarily to keep you and your data safe.

 

3. Turn it off

If you're not at home and you're not using your Bluetooth or wifi, it's always a good idea to turn those settings off. One reason for this is that everyone from coffee shops to clothing outlets can use Bluetooth and wifi signals to track you and your phone, even when you're not connected to their network.

 

4. Avoid open wireless networks

If you're out and about, try and avoid open wireless networks. They may be free for anyone to use, but they can also be abused. Malicious hackers often set up their own wireless networks with familiar names like 'Tesco' or 'Starbucks.' And it's impossible for you to know the difference between these fake networks and the real thing. The hackers then eavesdrop on the things you do online.

 

If you absolutely have to connect to a public wifi network, consider using a VPN, a Virtual Private Network. A VPN will protect your connection and prevent hackers from watching what you do and where you go on the Internet.

 

5. Be wary of dubious links

You probably wouldn't open an unknown link if you received it in a strange email on your computer at home, so don't do it on your smartphone either. Hackers have been known to use texts and instant messages to try to pull off the so-called phishing attacks, and in some cases, they can even make the messages sound and look like they come from your friends and family. Treat links in attachments with caution, even when you think you know who or where they come from.

 

6. Keep your smartphone up-to-date

Software updates plug holes, squash bugs, and keep your phone secure. Once a bug becomes public, attackers use it for everything from stealing your passwords to holding your phone to ransom.

 

By following these simple steps, work-from-homers can find it easy to keep their personal and professional lives seperate and as safe as possible.

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