In light of a number of recent high-profile security breaches, people are concerned about the safety of their personal digital data. It's not an overreaction; some 64 percent of Americans surveyed "have experienced a major data breach" and 49 percent believe their personal information is less secure now than it was five years ago, according to the Pew Research Center.
It's enough to make you wonder if you have to choose between privacy and participating in modern society. Thankfully, the answer is no -- with a few protective measures. Yet interestingly, while we worry constantly about privacy and data security, on the whole, we don't seem to be all that careful online.
"At the same time that they express skepticism about whether the businesses and institutions they interact with can adequately protect their personal information, a substantial share of the public admits that they do not always incorporate cybersecurity best practices into their own digital lives," reads the Pew report.
Our information will never be 100 percent secure and private online; that's simply part of the cost of existing in the digital age. However, there are solid steps you can take to safeguard your sensitive data and breathe easier when sharing information online, even in a coworking space -- where you may not know the people sitting next to you. Here, we share our top four best practices for keeping your data safe when you're at work.
If you're considering a new coworking space -- and with all of coworking's benefits, why wouldn't you be? -- ask management about how their network is secured. Most likely, the space's Wi-Fi will be password-protected, but for the best data guarding, that password ought to be very hard to crack and it ought to be changed regularly. Find out whether there's a separate Wi-Fi for visitors or guests, too; you will want that extra layer of security.
For your own part, make your passwords to your laptop, email and other applications complex as well. Don't make the egregious security mistake of writing your passwords down on paper. Instead, try a password manager.
Lock it up
Going to the bathroom and don't want to take your laptop, laptop bag, cell phone, and multiple other gadgets with you? We don't blame you, but don't leave that stuff alone while you go, either. Ask whether the coworking space you're interested in offers lockers, lockboxes, or other lockable storage. If so, use them -- or bring your own old-school combination lock if it can be used in conjunction with the storage space offered. (Additionally, some coworking spaces offer the use of Bluetooth-enabled furniture locks to their members.)
Here's a scary statistic. More than half of the software installed on PCs worldwide is out-of-date, leaving users at risk for security breaches, according to research firm Avast. "Putting off installing updates and running outdated applications can cause bugs and incompatibility problems for users, but more significantly, running out-of-date software can provide an open door for hackers to take advantage of holes left in programs that haven't had critical security updates applied," writes Danny Palmer in a recent piece on ZDNet.com.
So do yourself a favor and take the time to update your operating system and software when new versions become available. It may take a few extra minutes and mean rebooting your computer, but it could save you a major headache in the long run.
Get it on tape
Ask your prospective coworking space about its security monitoring system. Ideally, it will have cameras up and running in all shared, non-bathroom spaces 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Simple, affordable solutions like Google Nest allow users real-time access to footage and stores up to a month's worth of it.
Are you looking for secure, chic, affordable coworking space in and around Washington, DC? You've found it at Metro Offices. Browse Metro Offices' nine locations today.