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Working Securely in a Remote Environment

With the university currently in stage Red, employees are still encouraged to work remotely to the fullest extent possible. It is important that we all follow the below guidelines as we continue collaborating and working together from a distance in order to maintain information security and privacy guidance to help us better protect ourselves in the virtual world. Below are some helpful tips for working safely and securely in a remote environment:

Use your Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Make use of the university's VPN for an extra layer of security. VPN encrypts the data that is going back and forth from your workstation to the resources on our network. VPN is also necessary in order to receive critical security updates for your workstation.

Beware of Phishing or Suspicious Emails

If you encounter suspicious messages or attachments, please forward them to spam@richmond.edu. There has been a surge in malicious online activity as cybercriminals leverage the heighted fear of the public during the coronavirus pandemic. Online criminals are delivering coronavirus-themed phishing messages via emails, direct messages, and text messages. These messages are often alarmist and include links or attachments with the call to action to "learn more." Clicking the link often results in account compromise, malware delivery, or another malicious activity. Learn more here.

Use Strong Passwords

Because there are more threats out there during the pandemic, there are plenty of cybercriminals looking to take over accounts. The easiest way to protect your accounts from being compromised is to use long, complex, and unique passwords. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that your passwords are at least sixteen characters long and include a number, a capital letter, and/or a special character. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use passphrases that only make sense to you, and to use a password manager such as LastPass. LastPass also has the ability to store and generate strong, unique, passwords.

Maintain a Clean Workspace

If you're using a shared workspace at your remote location, be conscious of clearing it of sensitive information, especially if you have to step away. Also, avoid printing out university information at home or in public spaces if it's not necessary for your business function. In addition, if you are listening in on or participating in meetings that could be considered sensitive or in which you share nonpublic information, be sure to put on headphones. If you have the option, work in a separate, dedicated office space whenever possible.

Maintain a Secure Workstation

Use university-issued devices for all of your work so you can take advantage of security controls built in by Information Services. If you need to use your personal machine for work related items, consider making a separate user account on that machine in order to keep your personal files separate from your work files.

The video below cover the above, and additional safety tips. If you follow these best practices while working from a remote location, your work and your information (or other people's information that you might handle) will be at a much lower risk of being compromised.