With working from home the new norm, Joel Bruckenstein of Technology Tools for Today, or T3, shared some tips on how to avoid certain mistakes. Technology being what it is can be problematic to those suddenly away from the mothership. Even a tech whiz can get tripped up on a simple Zoom conference setup or frustrated with a slower internet connection.
Further, cybersecurity protocols, especially, may be left behind in the rush to move to a home office. In fact, a recent T3/Inside Information Advisor Software Survey found that even in the best of times only 7% of those in the business utilize cybersecurity applications, leading Bruckenstein to say at the February T3 conference, “This is the biggest threat to the industry by far, yet advisors are more than complacent, they actually have their heads in the sand.”
With that in mind, here are six mistakes advisors often make when working from home, and how to avoid them, according to Bruckenstein.
1. Sharing passwords.
In a word, don’t. Many firms still share passwords and have password books, according to Bruckenstein. “Some people share passwords to avoid paying a per user fee for each user, but this type of behavior has risks, especially in a WFH environment,” he notes. Not only is there the danger of multiple employees using the same set of login credentials, but it also means two-factor authentication doesn’t work when at home, leaving advisors vulnerable.
2. Using a shared computer.
Bad idea. Couples and families often use a shared computer, but risks abound. Likely, says Bruckenstein, the hard drive isn’t encrypted; peripherals, i.e. printers, may not be secure; and even the computer itself may not be protected.
Also, usernames and passwords may be saved on the browser, giving others access to your account. Brukenstein says if you must share a computer, make sure you have a dedicated account with your own user name and password that is automatically set to lock after a short period of inactivity.
3. Using a less secure Wi-Fi network.
Set up two or more Wi-Fi networks so you have your own, and the family has another.
4. Not using a professional firewall.
This is the first line of defense for a network, Bruckenstein says. It can be hardware, software or both. For home, most are built into the router, but can also be in Windows or some third-party software.
Business firewalls, as expected, are stronger and include, for example, intrusion protection. This also is important for home systems, and it’s recommended to make this investment both in business and home. Many business devices include gateway VPN capabilities, which can bridge to remote sites, networks or devices.
5. Not connecting securely.
If you are connected to the office or others through a web service, “make sure you’re on a secure network, that the site is secure and encrypted (HTTPS), and that you use two-factor authentication,” Bruckenstein writes. Or use a VPN recommended by your IT department. He also recommends cleverDome, in which data is protected by a private internet and uses military-grade cybersecurity.
6. Overlooking physical security.
Make sure to not leave any work-related documents on your desk unattended. Keep everything locked up and shred any important documents before disposal. Be vigilant — not only with your online communications, but home as well.
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