Home hardware Wi-Fi and Cybersecurity

Doctor Digital, what do I need to know about WFH and cyber security

Doctor Digital Says

If you aren’t working from home (WFH) already, chances are you will be soon if your job is able to be done remotely. So what do you need to have to make your set up work? The basics required for work from home are a PC or a laptop, good LAN or Wi-Fi connection, and access to power. If possible, have a laptop or PC set up that is identical to your workplace one to help with the transition to WFH.

Depending on the nature of your work, you may be surprised at the internet download and upload requirements needed. Sending and receiving large files, taking video conference calls, and simultaneously running multiple online programs are just some of the typical work tasks that can affect internet speed, add in your normal household use (or higher use if you have others in the family spending more time at home online than usual), and you may need to do some tweaks to your package with your internet service provider.

Speed is how fast the content you download and upload travels between the internet and your devices. These are some of the things that can impact your data speed:

  • The time of day, as high-traffic times like the evening can cause speeds to slow
  • The type and size of the content you are downloading or uploading
  • The number of people in your premises actively online at the same time
  • The provider, plan and speed tier you choose
  • The way your specific provider configures their network and manages traffic
  • The nbn technology available at your premises – whether it is fibre to the premises, node or using satellite

You can also do a speedtest to see what your base upload and download speed is to work out if you are going to need more.

Working from home might become challenging if you rely on an unstable Wi-Fi connection that doesn’t provide good coverage to all areas of your house or apartment. Even with the right speed and plan, your broader home usage can affect your online experience. If you are using Wi-Fi, ensure that you have an updated modem and that it has a clear line of sight to your device.

Brick walls, other large appliances and even mirrors can all cause poor signal strength. Also check your cabling as older cable can slow down speeds, consider upgrading older machines like printers and if your computer is older than three years, now might be the time to upgrade and take advantage of tax write offs and COVID-19 Government incentives (check with your accountant first of course.)

Basic modems can generally support eight devices connected at one time, but in a modern household with each person having a laptop, phone, often a tablet as well, this adds up fast. Audit your devices across your people and devise a plan to make your new WFH arrangement work.

Check for peak household usage, is there a post dinner surge when Netflix, YouTube, online study and e-sports are all urgently required while you are trying to have a videoconference?

If you share your internet connection with many more people, it might be also a good idea to ask your employer about setting a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service for security. Many businesses use a VPN to allow their employees to log in remotely – and safely – to work servers and systems.

If you do use a VPN and your internet appears to go down while working, it could be your VPN not speed or bandwidth. To check whether it’s your VPN or an issue with your connection, try accessing a non-work website like Google. If it loads normally, contact your workplace to let them know your VPN isn’t working.

NBN Co as the network provider has already increased the speed on all services to try and accommodate the new surge of people working from home and is working with the Australian Government to make connectivity possible for maximum customers nationally. The big three in Australia, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have also all announced measures to dramatically increase data for customers - check out their offerings and what you can expect: Telstra - Optus - Vodafone.

With the tips above to get the best from your home set up and providers doing their utmost to get data flowing, you should be at peak productivity in your new home set up in no time. But don’t forget to have a break, breathe, and keep your hands washed.

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