Telecommuting from a home office is much more prevalent than it used to be. It allows you to stay involved with your family while juggling a busy career, and thanks to the internet and video conferencing you can keep up with the office without missing a beat. Of course, the home office doesn’t come with the secretaries, desk staff and security systems that the main office enjoys. Yet the work you do at home is just as important, and must be protected. So how do you keep your equipment and data safe when working on your own? Here are five of the top home office security tips.

The first tip has nothing to do with infrastructure and everything to do with foresight, and that is to make sure your home office is insured. You might already have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance in place, but that won’t always cover your home office. Most policies have a specific dollar amount of coverage and unless you raise the stakes, a fire, flood or theft can leave you in serious trouble. Make sure you update your insurance to reflect your business equipment, especially if any of it comes on loan from your employer.

Next, make sure all of your data is backed up. Your best, most secure option is to use a mix of physical and cloud storage options. Back up everything on your computer to an external hard drive that is a completely separate device. If you have to go away for an extended trip, consider keeping that device in a safe that will stand up to water and fire damage. Then back everything up to a cloud storage drive. All it takes is a small monthly fee and you’ll be able to access your data from wherever you are.

Your home office is also susceptible to identity theft, and you must be aware of how that can happen. Start off by regularly changing all of your computer passwords, and never use a password based off of names, addresses or birthdates. Make sure you have a current security program installed, and run it once a week to make sure your computer doesn’t have a virus. Any physical data that you must store should be in a lockable filing cabinet or that fireproof safe. And when you do get rid of physical files, make sure you use a shredder so your sensitive personal data can’t be pulled out of the garbage.

In order to make sure your expensive electronic equipment is safe you must use surge protectors. If you plug straight into the wall a lightning storm could end up burning out your computers, and all it will take to guarantee this doesn’t happen is a $40 surge protector. But just to be sure, you’re better off unplugging all of your electronics during a bad storm.

Finally, make sure you take care of the obvious, physical security measures that are within your power. If your home office is on the ground floor keep the windows locked, and always lock your office door. If you keep sensitive information in your desk or filing cabinet, those should be kept locked as well. A key lock is always better than a combination lock that can be guessed, as long as you keep those keys safe. Check or your local security company to look over the best options for your needs.

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