Protect your privacy when working remotely

If you're a digital nomad or any type of coffee shop dweller, here are a couple of things you should do in order to protect your belongings and your identity while enjoying work along a nice cup of java ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️.

Don't empty out your backpack on the table

It's simple. I know you own an iPad and an iPhone, and a MacBook Pro, and the latest AirPods. Just don't throw them all out on the table.

You probably don't need all of them at once. So keep them in your backpack and keep your backpack close by.

Don't leave your belongings unsupervised

This one is a no-brainer, but it has to be said again and again. I work from the same coffeeshops all the time, and I know almost everyone over there. Nevertheless, whenever I need to step away from my computer, I let someone know I'm doing so and ask them to watch over my stuff.

There are probably no thieves in the areas you frequently work form, but you never know when a stray one might want to have a coffee, and wouldn't mind getting a laptop instead of milk, to go with the coffee.

Lock your computer at all times

If possible, close the lid. You don't want people in the coffeeshop to know your full name. Nor do you want them to know your secret Reddit troll account moniker, that you also use for your computer username 😅.

Most of us use our real names when creating an account on the work computer, and that's dangerous when you let your glossy login screen shine while you step away to get that delicious muffin.

I've had people freak out on me when I called them by their names, after looking at their login screen, in the coffeeshop. After the initial freak-out, I managed to calm them and explain to them why leaving your name all over the place is not quite in the spirit of privacy.

And let's not get started on why it's essential that your computer be locked at all times, when you're not next to it. You probably don't work for the government, and you probably won't get that nasty virus that a spy would normally plant to extract information from your laptop. But why risk it?

What if your significant other works for the government? What if they make the mistake of downloading some photos from your computer to a thumb drive, then put that into their work computer?

This is how things like WannaCry spread, kids...

Encrypt your hard drive

Period! You need that thing encrypted. If you're working for a company, this should be in the company's security policy.

If you lose a company asset, like a laptop, the damage is not the device itself. A laptop can be easily replaced.

But if the person who finds that laptop can take information out of it — not to mention login directly to the device — then it becomes a weapon turned against your employer.

Fortunately, Apple devices have native hard drive encryption, which you can turn on yourself. I've heard Microsoft provides it too, but because I don't care about them, I'm not even going to look it up.

Core idea is that you should encrypt your hard drive.

Have a real login on your computer

This can't be stressed enough. Yes, it's a waste of time having to type your password every time you open your computer. But you and your boss and your clients will thank yourself for this decision, when your laptop gets stolen or lost.

Assuming you're able to set a password that's a bit more complicated than "123456789" or "iloveyouteddy" or "h4x0r", you'll be okay.

Sans a laptop... but okay.

Use a password manager

The worst thing about losing your laptop is that damn "Remember me" checkbox.

We are all guilty of forgetting / not remembering our password(s) and relying on tertiary mechanisms to remember them for us. It's either that or you use the same password for all your accounts, in which case, you're f**cked.

It's as simple as right clicking on the password field, and clicking "Inspect element" and then changing the HTML <input> element from type="password" to type="text" — please don't steal your significant other's passwords by doing this, it's crap and it won't bring you anything good.

But if you use a password manager, you only have to remember one big, fat, juicy, complicated password.

At both my co-founder Cristi and I use 1Password. I've been a long-time fan and user of this amazing piece of software. I've been using it since the days I had a Hackintosh machine (because I couldn't afford a real Mac).

There are other options out there such as KeePass, KeePassX, LastPass and DashLane — these are almost all the relevant options out there.

Another advantage of a password manager, is that nobody can watch you typing a password, since most decent password managers provide browser extensions which auto-fill your credentials.

Don't disable the "Find My" app

If you're in the Apple ecosystem, don't disable "Find My". If you lose a device, you increase your chances of locating it, by having that app enabled.

7 years ago, I lost my iPhone 3GS in the wardrobe of a clothing store. Got back 20 minutes after the fact to get my phone back and it was gone. Fortunately, Find My iPhone was installed on it, and I was able to point law enforcement to a 400sqm area where the phone was located.

Of course, it took them 6 months to bring the phone back because of all the "process" involved, but I got it back, with a jailbreak and a baseband downgrade 🐱

Refrain from telling everyone what you do

Or what contracts you have... Or what projects you're working on... Or how much you're making/charging per hour/day/project.

And I don't think you need a specific reason for the above.

Would love to hear your thoughts so tweet at us @weremoteeu.