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Securing A Home Work Environment

Securing your work environment while working online from home requires some additional consideration—you will be using your home network, and possibly your personal computer. This page provides resources to help you maintain the same security precautions as if you were on campus.

Secure Your Computer and Files

Northwestern IT recommends that you use your University-issued computer. If managed by an IT department, it will have the appropriate software and encryption, and it will automatically receive security patches. Files you receive will be stored safely on this computer.

However, if you must use your personal computer, please follow these guidelines:

Install Antivirus Software

Maintain Computer Updates and Security Patches

Ensure Your Browser Has the Latest Updates

Manage Sensitive Information

Save your files on SharePoint as instructed by your department. This solution is secure and allows you to safely store and access your data with just an internet connection as well as share them with your colleagues. Please do not use the OneDrive desktop client to manage files on personal computers, as this can inadvertently store sensitive data on an unmanaged device.

You can access Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, and other Office 365 tools online if you do not have them on your personal computer. Log in at with your NetID and password.

Be Alert to Phishing and Other Scams

As so much more of our communications are online, the risk for clicking on a scam email that appears to be from a co-worker is greater. If you do receive an email that seems suspicious, report it to the Northwestern IT Information Security Office.

Create Strong Passwords

Use the Northwestern Virtual Private Network (VPN) Service

A VPN is a technology that creates a private, encrypted tunnel for your online activity, making it much more difficult for anyone to watch or monitor what you are doing online. All your online activity goes through this tunnel, then leaves the Northwestern network to your intended destination.

As a best practice, use VPN whenever possible, and especially when you are working with sensitive data. Instructions for the setup and use of Northwestern's VPN can be found in the Northwestern Knowledge Base.

Secure Your Home Network

Almost every home network starts with a wireless (or Wi-Fi) network, enabling all of your devices to connect to the internet. Most home wireless networks are controlled by either your internet router or a separate, dedicated wireless access point. Either way, they work by broadcasting wireless signals to which your devices connect. To secure your wireless network, do the following:

More information about securing your home network is available from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Here are some resources from common ISPs: 


Last Updated: 21 December 2021

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