Seven Deadly Sins of home office security

Whether your home office is for the occasional WAH or you're running a business from the house, are you guilty of one of these security oversights

According to the human resources association World at Work, 17.2 million Americans worked from home or remotely at least one day per month for their employer last year (See also: 4 Telecommuting Security Mistakes). And the 2007 book 'Microtrends' estimates that 4.2 million Americans work full-time from home.

Good security is a key to good productivity. CSO spoke with two home office security experts about security mistakes home office workers often make (and how to avoid those errors).

1. Failing to physically secure the office

Working out of a home in Southern Florida, Jeff Zbar knows all too well how important physical security is for his office. Zbar, a journalist, corporate copywriting and home office expert, runs the web site and has also written several books, including "Safe @ Home: Seven Keys to Home Office Security."

During Florida's infamous hurricane season, Zbar has plywood ready to go for his office windows. He has storm shutters on them year round. But the physical security of his office goes far beyond weather concerns. His home also contains three children and three dogs, which can serve up a different kind of threat.

"These are things you've got to think about if your office is in the house. What if one of the children goes up and sees that pretty green light on the computer and they decide to touch it? What if they pull on the cable or the dog chews on the cables? I've made sure my computer is stashed in such a way they can't get to it when I am not around." (See also: 6 Desk Security Mistakes). Clearly, a lock on the office door itself may not be a bad idea.

Zbar also has fireproof lock boxes (Underwriters Labs (UL)-rated boxes are available at your local office-supply store) where he stores important documents and data in the event of a theft or disaster.

And consider a cross-cut shredder to help dispose of such documents when you're done with them.

2. Failing to install the most basic computer security measures

How much thought do people give to the security of their home office network?

"Most people typically go out and buy a router from Best Buy, throw it in there and call it a network," said Derek Krein, a wireless security expert. "It's pretty scary."

Krein, who is the chief technology officer with Advanced Wireless Networks in Virginia, says the assumption that home office networks are not common targets for criminals is dangerous.

"People think: 'I'm at home, no one is going to bother my home network,'" he said. "But by configuring the security properly, you make it difficult enough that criminals go elsewhere to find lower hanging fruit." (See also: Top 9 Network Security Threats in 2009)

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