Home Office Security During the Coronavirus Crisis

Photo credit: Elisa Berdica

Home Office Security During the Coronavirus Crisis

Due to the current circumstances, the University of Mannheim has ordered all staff members to work from home if possible. Should you be doing so, it is absolutely essential that you set up a secure workspace and handle internal information appropriately. To help you with this, we have compiled the most important things to bear in mind when working from home.

Important guidelines and recommendations

Which device should I use?

Please use a laptop provided by the university if you can. We also ask you to follow the instructions below if you have not been supplied with one and are using your private device. Please also use your own user profile, to which only you have access. In addition, you should encrypt the hard disk of your device. On Windows, this works best by turning on BitLocker encryption.

Please also remember to change your printer settings by setting your private printer to default. Otherwise, you might inadvertently print documents at the empty office instead of at home.

Virus scanner

It is crucial that you install a virus scanner and that you keep it up to date at all times. This is the only way to detect malware.

As an employee of the University of Mannheim, you should use the central antivirus protection provided by the University IT when using your work laptop. For this purpose, the University IT offers Bitdefender, which you can download for your work device here.

As this option is only available for university-owned laptops, employees using private devices have to use other alternatives. You can choose between numerous options, some of which are free, others are not. Whichever you choose, you should never install more than one antivirus program at the same time! Here is a small selection of free virus scanners: Avast Antivirus, Avira Free Antivirus or AVG Antivirus

Updates, updates, updates...!

Please make sure to always keep any installed software as well your operating system up to date in order to protect your device from common vulnerabilities, as well as to protect yourself and your data. Your virus scanner in particular will only work properly if it is updated regularly.

Coronavirus phishing e-mails

We are currently seeing a number of deceitful e-mails allegedly containing information about coronavirus cases in the area. Most of these e-mails contain a link or an Office file. Please do not click on the link or the attachment and delete any e-mails of this kind immediately. You can find more advice on our Spam and Phishing page.

Secure wireless connection

Please make sure that the wireless network you are using at home is WPA2 password-protected. If you are unsure about this, you can contact the company that supplied your router. Ideally, you should also connect to the university VPN. That way, you can ensure that your entire internet communication runs via the university network.

Protect your information – even at home

Please protect any work-related information and documents even from family members or other people you share your household with. Telephone calls about confidential topics should only be made in separate rooms and not on balconies or outside. Whenever you leave your desk, you should lock your screen (Windows + L) to prevent people from gaining access to your laptop. You should also never leave documents lying around openly on your desk, and store them away safely at the latest when you finish your work for the day.

Please also remember to secure your data by storing them on your network drive (NAS) via VPN instead of locally.

You should never dispose of confidential or sensitive documents and data carriers in your house waste bins, but always in the special bins designated for this purpose at the university.

Secure video conferences

Video conferences are becoming more and more important in our daily work. This is why we have compiled a number of useful tips and recommendations on how to use video conference tools. These will help you conduct your meetings and phone calls in a secure way. Please see our page on secure video conferences.

Report security incidents

Has someone stolen your laptop or documents with confidential information? Has your computer been infected with ransomware? Please keep calm and report the incident to the University IT by e-mail (infosicherheit uni-mannheim.de) or telephone (+49621 181–2000).

Read more about security incidents

Further advice

Please note: The recommendations given above are only a summary of the most important points. You should also read our advice on creating a secure office workspace, working securely outside of the office as well as our general security advice.