A lot of businesses are using home computers to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. While this is a very affordable option, it does present some security risks to a company. Unfortunately, hackers are not taking a break during this global pandemic, so online security is more important than ever!
We’ve put together a list of essential programs we recommend using while you’re working from home. This article includes recommendations for:
Personal computer Malware scanner
Personal computer Antivirus options
Secure Remote Connection software (connect to your work computer from home)
Password Manager options
A phone system that works from ANY device (great for mobile employees!)
Free software for better coworker communication
If an employee’s computer is infected with malware and that home computer is allowed to connect to your work network (through a VPN or other file sharing program), the infection on the home computer can propagate throughout your entire business. This would be very bad for business; BUT it can be avoided!
In order to prevent this, before home or personally owned computers are allowed to access your business resources, they should be scanned for malware. Malwarebytes is a totally free program that will scan your computer for any malware and quarantine it for you. It also provides active antivirus as a premium feature.
You need antivirus if you’re working from home. Period. No questions asked. For most, the basic editions should be enough, but if you’re interested in some additional features such as VPN’s, file encryption or email filtering, take a look at the premium editions. Here are some of our favorites:
Malwarebytes. As mentioned above, it’s an incredible tool not just for finding and removing viruses already on your computer, but also for actively protecting against them. https://www.malwarebytes.com/lp/sem/en/index.html
Tried and true. Industry standard
Can be installed onto a system already infected with a virus
Free version is incredibly powerful
Webroot. We love this tool primarily because it’s so fast and non-invasive. Additionally, it is constantly updating its security policies to give you near instantaneous protection against new threats as they arise. https://www.webroot.com/us/en/home/products/av
Extremely fast update speeds
Easy to use and minimal interference
Comes with a secure internet browser
Can be used on mobile devices
Vipre. This is a great all-around tool for people who need a tried and true antivirus. It comes with most of the bells and whistles as the other programs listed here, and the user interface is very intuitive. https://www.vipre.com/vipre-home-protection-products/
Provides email filtering
Provides a VPN service so you be more anonymous.
Automatically helps your applications patch.
TeamViewer is the industry standard for remote desktops – this means that instead of messing around with complex VPN’s and headache-inducing file sharing (such as Drobox or OneDrive), TeamViewer allows you to remotely access your work computer from literally any device – smartphones and tablets included! Setup is extremely easy; simply install the program onto your devices, sign in, and you’re good to go. You will literally be controlling your work computer from home.
The best part about TeamViewer? For individuals using it in a non-commercial environment, it is absolutely free! The free version doesn’t come with the ease of user accounts and assigned devices, but as long as you have the ID and password of the device you want to connect to, you’ll be able to access and control your computers from anywhere.
Read more about how TeamViewer can benefit your business by reading “Benefits of Managed Services: Remote Access”
It’s hard to remember all your passwords for work, especially when you’re at home and don’t have the convenience of all the sticky notes you’ve taped to your monitor (PLEASE STOP DOING THIS). Before you leave for home, it’s a good idea to sign up for a password manager and enter in all of your passwords so you can access them from home.
Most password managers are cloud based, meaning if you have your account setup and know your username and password, you can access your stored passwords from any device. Here are a couple password managers we use and recommend:
LastPass. This is a great option if you’re looking for a free password manager. Once you’ve created an account and installed the browser extensions (part of the account setup), LastPass behaves very similarly to a default browser password manager by auto populating usernames and passwords into forms. An added benefit is you can also store credit card and billing information (if you choose to do so) to make online shopping a bit easier. Additionally, the database in the cloud which stores your passwords is heavily encrypted, meaning if the LastPass servers are hacked, your passwords will still be secure. https://www.lastpass.com/
Keeper. This is a great option if you have no issues paying some money for a password manager (which I recommend everyone to do). Keeper has an incredibly easy-to-use interface and has apps available for all major platforms. LastPass has compatibility on a wide range of devices as well, but we found Keeper to be superior in ease of use and compatibility. Keeper also connects to multiple cyber security sites that keep track of data breaches and will automatically warn you if a data breach is detected on one of your accounts. https://www.keepersecurity.com/
For more information about these options, read our post “Top 3 Password Managers from an IT Pro’s Perspective”.
Most of us use an in-place phone system at work. This can be a huge hassle for you or your employees when you need to forward phones and still be able to make use of your phone systems. Additionally, if you don’t want to use your own personal cellphones and numbers for business, RingCentral can provide a better solution.
Instead of having an actual phone, RingCentral is a piece of software that rings on your computer when you get a call. As long as you have a USB headset, you’ll be able to use your computer for inbound and outbound calls. The best part is you don’t even have to transfer any numbers! When you sign up for RingCentral, you will be given a free number. You simply forward your in-place phone at work to the free number provided by RingCentral and you’ll be able to use your computer as a phone.
As if that wasn’t enough, it comes with a free copy of Zoom Meetings (rebranded as RingCentral Meetings) for you and your team to do video conferencing and remote meetings!
It sounds crazy and it’s a bit of a culture change, but we use this software for our own business on a daily basis and can highly recommend it.
If you need to keep in touch with your coworkers via voice, video or chat, Discord is likely going to be your best option. It’s completely free and comes with built-in video and voice calling. It was originally created for gamers to talk to each other while playing with one another but it has quickly evolved into one of the industry’s leading messaging platforms. Did we mention it’s totally free?? https://discordapp.com/