Millions of Americans are now working from home, having discovered that the comfort of their living rooms bolster overall productivity despite their distance from the office. Despite the growth of the gig economy and the increasing reliance on working from home, however, few modern professionals are up to date on savvy methods that can protect their business data while they type away at home. Hackers and competitors are always looking for you to drop your guard, so it’s imperative you don’t put home IT security on the backburner if important business data is on your personal devices.

Don’t leave your valuable business data sitting out in the open for some third party to make off with. Here’s how to protect your business data while working from home, and why it’s imperative to be constantly backing up your information.

Start with email

First and foremost, forget your traditional understanding of data security and storage and begin by focusing on your email account. Millions of people rely on their email accounts every day in order to conduct business and make sense of their commercial lives, yet many of these users know next to nothing when it comes to proper email security. If you’re a small business owner or a hardworking professional who works from home, failing to encrypt your email sufficiently could be an easy way for hackers and other nefarious actors to breach your network and gain access to your lucrative business data.

You should review Microsoft’s helpful page on small businesses and email security, as these tips can generally be applied to your home operations. Having an encrypted email account that’s difficult to access may force you to take a few additional seconds to log in every day, yet it will save you from terrible headaches and commercial nightmares that would otherwise occur if a data breach were to happen. Remember that with IT security, you can only maintain your privacy and network security by taking steps before something goes wrong. Reacting to threats will simply keep you on the defensive forever, where your company’s data is being absconded with left, right, and center.

You should also consider enlisting the help of a VPN, or virtual private network, which will help you browse the web anonymously. A good business VPN can be the difference between data security and an information disaster, so consider investing heavily in a stellar VPN if you’re going to be working at home for the foreseeable future. You may want to save as much money as possible while working from your couch, but some things can’t be dismissed when it comes to buying only the best.

As important as an encrypted email service and a VPN to hide your IP are, you simply can’t stop there. Elsewhere, you’ll need to take sufficient steps to ensure that your data is properly backed up. Failing to back your data up to a number of backup sites is an easy way to have your entire commercial empire come crumbling down in the event of a ransomware attack or widespread server crash. Nevertheless, many hard working professionals who are making money in their living rooms skip this process because they think it’s only needed for major office operations. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Know the secrets of data storage

Understanding data storage is easy, yet it takes time and practice to get it right if you’re a newcomer to all things tech. Perhaps the most popular option in this day and age is moving data to the cloud, where it seemingly takes care of itself. In reality, however, “the cloud” is nothing other than someone else’s computer that’s running on your behalf very far away, so don’t think you can securely move data there without knowing its ins and outs first. It would also be terribly foolish to mistakenly believe that backing your data up to the cloud is enough, and that doing such will protect your business data while working from home in perpetuity.

You need to consider other data backup options as well. A general rule of thumb is that the more data backup options you have, the better position you’ll be in when something inevitably goes wrong and a server fails. Consider backing your data up to a physical hard drive that’s safely stowed at an off-site location that’s neither your business nor your home. That way, you’ll always have a physical backup to rely on in the unlikely event of a fire, break in, or similar tragedy.

Finally, understand that modern homes are more often than not smart homes, and while this makes your life easier it also renders you substantially more vulnerable to certain digital intrusions. Your beloved Alexa device from Amazon or Google Home could prove to be glaring gaps in your IT security, for instance, unless you know how to properly secure your IoT devices and network. Be sure that the entire family is briefed on the importance of data security, too, as any member of your household could mistakenly leave you vulnerable to an outside attack if they grow lazy.

The secrets of data storage simply take time to master, so get started right away when it comes to bolstering your home network. As you’ll soon discover, protecting your business data while working from home is an essential part of making it in the remote workforce, and those who fail to adequately safeguard their commercial information will soon be paying the professional consequences.