Staying Secure in the WFH Environment

Posted on April 8, 2020

Now that so many people are working from home – and probably will be, until the crisis passes – a major concern for everyone is protecting sensitive data. While this has always been an issue when doing everyday tasks like banking or buying stuff online, it’s become even more critical if you find yourself working on TV commercials, promos or brand content from your home.

This applies to everyone working in the advertising content food chain these days, whether you’re at a brand, an agency, a production company or a post company such as an editorial shop, VFX studio or animation and CG house. It goes for music and audio post, too, as well as for all those freelancers who now find themselves working from home as opposed to being on-site at an agency or production company.

At Simian, ensuring data protection has always been an important part of what we do. We’ve set up multiple levels of security to protect the files our users upload to our servers. From role-based permissions to utilizing a server network spread across multiple global regions to lots of other steps, security (and stability) has always been one of our paramount goals. So we feel we have a few pointers we can share. (For more on our platform, go here.)

First off, there are a basics that are worth repeating. Don’t share passwords. Be stingy with administrator access. Set expiration dates and passwords for shared video content, if you’re concerned it might leak out to unauthorized viewers before it’s done and dusted, as the English like to say. Most services have built-in protections to help facilitate this; at Simian, for example, we’ll lock out an IP address if we register too many failed login attempts.

If you’re sending out work for presentation or review & approval, it’s wise to a use video service that allows you to track users by location, if at all possible. But remember, this doesn’t always provide you with the level of analytics you need, as people may be viewing content from mobile devices.

Here are a few more tips that will help you sleep better at night, especially if you work for a smaller boutique that doesn’t have a full-time CTO or engineering department on staff:

  • Check the level of security your cloud-based data centers employ. (Ours are SOC3 compliant, versus SOC2, which many others use.)
  • How is your data being stored? If you’re on a shared server, your files may be more susceptible to problems than if you’re on a single-server instance.
  • What kind of testing does your cloud system offer? That’s also important, as it’s a way to try and stay a step ahead of hackers.
  • Make sure your passwords are strong: 12 character minimums, with a salad of numbers, symbols, upper and lower cases, etc.
  • Lock your screen! Sounds elementary, but you’d be surprised to know how many people see this as a pain in the neck.
  • Password managers are your friends; use an encrypted one to manage all your passwords.
  • Speaking of encryption, be sure to encrypt your files, whether you’re working on a Mac or PC.
  • Designate one browser for all work activities and ONLY use that browser for work. Disable any plugins or extensions.
  • Don’t forget about your network: make sure your home Wi-Fi password is strong (see above). WPA3 is the most secure protocol but many access points only support WPA2 - which is a good alternative.
  • Got a firewall? Then FLAME ON!
  • Use anti-virus and malware detection if possible (this is especially important if running Windows), and just like with flossing, run it at least once a day.
  • Remember that most IM platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Slack) aren’t recommended for sensitive information, as anything you send is vulnerable.
  • When you’re not using your computer, shut it down. It can’t get hacked if it’s not on.
  • Make sure any online services you use for sensitive data has ‘https://’ in its’ URL.

For years, Simian has been helping everyone from multinational companies and global agencies to the independent editor or composer working out of his or her rec room, so much like the Farmers Insurance guy, we’ve seen a few things. Hope you find what we’ve laid out here helpful! Working smarter is what Simian is all about.