The answer is yes - you can! The pandemic has shifted our view of work and proven that many professions can be performed from the convenience of employees' homes. Even before COVID-19, businesses were moving towards remote work environments to cut expenses, reduce commuting time, and experiment with work-life balance. With this rise in flexibility and freedom, remote workers are the new long-term travelers and frequently find themselves working in an Airbnb or other “home away from home.” As exciting as it is to have the luxury of working in a new destination, it is important to know how to remain secure while working in an Airbnb or VRBO.
A few of the best ways to ensure you are working securely while enjoying the flexibility of working away from home are:
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
We advise that you avoid unsecured WIFI, especially connections that are not password protected. When you do need to connect to the internet for remote work, using a virtual private network (VPN) service is essential since it shields your device from several cyber hazards. VPNs make it difficult for hackers to determine your location and internet service provider, track what you do online, or intercept your online activities. Normally, when you connect to WIFI, your ISP (Internet Service Provider) receives the request when you attempt to access a website and routes you to the desired location.
When using a VPN, the internet traffic is instead redirected through a VPN server before being sent to your destination. This redirection VPN changes your IP address and masks your location for better security. All your network activities will be encrypted if you use a VPN. It successfully establishes a link between your device and a private, secure network, virtually transporting you to your secure office and keeping you safe behind your organization's firewall and policies. Net Friends is a Palo Alto Networks partner, and we deploy, manage, and support firewalls for our customers that maintain VPN connections for all our customers.
The best services for free VPNs are presently provided by Proton VPN. Proton doesn't impose a ton of restrictions and limitations to get you to upgrade. Proton has no data caps, in contrast to practically all other free VPNs that may limit your data usage. Although you can download Proton VPN onto as many devices as you wish, you can only connect one of them at once, so it does have its limitations.
If you're looking to spend a little more to get a little more, Nord VPN is a great option. Nord VPN offers several paid plans ranging from $3.99 to $5.99 per month. Nord controls and manages a large portion of its servers to prevent unauthorized access. It also allows up to six simultaneous connections.
Look For Cameras or Tracking Devices in the Home
In a recent survey, 11% of respondents reported they discovered a hidden camera at their Airbnb. Knowing your rights around surveillance cameras in your rental is crucial if you're planning to work from a vacation rental, such as Airbnb or VRBO. In public places and communal areas, Airbnb permits the use of surveillance cameras or audio recording devices. When you first arrive at your lodging, you should check out every room, especially the one where you will be using your technology. Pay attention to smoke detectors, radios, outlets, and any flashing lights, because many hidden cameras are placed inside common objects that are often overlooked. You should not place your device at a compromising angle where your password, or other secure information, can be seen and recorded.
Consider Mobile Tethering instead of Public WIFI
With mobile tethering, you can forgo a local connection altogether, and just use the data provided by your phone service provider. Now that both Android and iPhones have the built-in capability to transform your mobile device into Wi-Fi hotspots, your laptops, tablets, and even other phones can securely access the internet through them. Mobile tethering is extremely beneficial as you control the connection, and no extra security is necessary. While this method used to be slower than typical WIFI, today it's often just as fast. One thing to keep in mind is that your phone can receive a strong signal to be a strong mobile tethering source. Make sure to confirm with your mobile provider that hotspots are supported by your phone plan. Some plans may have monthly data caps or additional costs associated with using this function.
Focus on Physical Security
The cybersecurity protections described above are important, but you also want to minimize the chance of theft. When you arrive at and exit an office, it's common to lock the building's doors and assume your workstation will be safe. It is more difficult to ensure that your devices are secure when you are traveling abroad and staying in vacation rentals. It is crucial to keep an eye on your electronics and keep them safely stowed away and out of sight when not in use to avoid encouraging crimes of opportunity. That entails not leaving a laptop alone in a public setting, such as the airport, or in plain sight from the window of your Airbnb or VRBO.
Some rental properties even offer physical safes, similar to hotel rooms, that you can use to lock away valuables. Data encryption is an extra layer of security in case your device is stolen. Data encryption is a type of security where data is encoded and only a user with the right encryption key may access it. If the device is stolen and the unauthorized user tries to extract the hard drive, the encryption will protect the data from being accessed through other means.
We cannot predict the future, but what is certain is that remote and hybrid work will persist for some time to come. The same can be said for employees who work remotely while traveling the globe. Taking the simple steps provided above is an effective way to ensure you maintain a proper cybersecurity posture while working from a VRBO or Airbnb. If you're interested in implementing any of these security procedures, like setting up a VPN for every employee in your organization, get in touch with Net Friends.