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Cyber Commuting 101: Tips and Checklist

Nate Howe

March 13, 2020

Cyber Commuting 101: Tips and Checklist banner photo
According to CNBC, over 70% of the US population now performs some remote work regularly. While we all love the idea of working in our pajamas, working from home poses some unique challenges to productivity and security. In order to support your success, we have assembled a checklist and a list of tips. Rest assured that you are in good hands with these tips because defending the UT Dallas network is a 24×7 assignment made possible by remote work.

Tips for Success

Working remotely can be rewarding, allowing employees more productive time and providing faster response to events. But there are some unique challenges that must be given consideration. These quick tips should get you a long way in your remote work journey, but always check with your supervisor first to understand procedures and expectations in your department.

For you

  • Before working remotely, ensure that you are fully prepared by taking note of any tasks that you need to accomplish and gathering all the equipment you will need to perform those tasks.
  • Remember that working remotely involves more than being available to take a call – it means actively working towards work deliverables and collaborating with teammates.
  • Establish a specific schedule to begin and end work and stick to your plans. If working from home, inform your family about your schedule and expectations.
  • Be sure to contact your supervisor at the beginning of each work period, specifying your availability and planned work deliverables for the day. After your work day is done, follow up to confirm what was accomplished.
  • Be available to your teammates through all official communication platforms, such as email, Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, or phone.

For your environment

  • Work in places comfortable, quiet, and free of disruptions. Stock up on the necessary supplies and equipment.
  • Coordinate your equipment needs with your supervisor – some job assignments require only a computer and phone, while others need specialized equipment such as printer and document scanner.
  • Set boundaries with young children, or make care arrangements where possible. Just as you wouldn’t bring children to the office, it is difficult to work from home while also supervising children.
  • Do not leave passwords or sensitive information unattended in your work space.
  • If possible, lock the room where you are working, or lock your work materials in a cabinet.
  • Shred any sensitive paper documents, or bring them back to the office to shred. Do not dispose of sensitive information directly in the trash where others could read it.
  • Beware that other devices on your network can pose a risk to your work device. Devices streaming movies and/or connecting to interactive gaming may consume large amount of bandwidth and disrupt your remote work.

For your equipment

  • You are responsible for all UT Dallas devices and materials that you take out of the office. Take preventative care measures to protect them.
  • Computing equipment should be plugged into surge protectors, when possible, to reduce the chance of damage.
  • Do not share devices used for UT Dallas work. The web surfing habits or software installed by another person may pose a risk to UT Dallas information processed on the same computer.
  • Set up call forwarding from your office phone if you will need to receive calls at your UT Dallas extension. Some remote workers stay in touch with colleagues by personal phone number, so be sure to exchange numbers with the appropriate teammates.
  • Serious disruption can happen if your files are not backed up. Using storage options such as Box or OneDrive make it easy and are backed up automatically. This is preferable to saving files on your computer’s local hard drive.
  • For the most secure connection with the highest performance, use a wired ethernet connection whenever possible. If you are using a wireless connection, make sure it uses WPA2 encryption with a passphrase. Avoid open, untrusted wireless networks.

Getting Started

These are easy steps to join the remote workforce.

      1) Check with your supervisor to understand if remote work options are supported in your department. If remote work is allowed, you and your supervisor should decide together what equipment will be used.
      2) Duo / NetIDplus two-factor authentication is needed to access several valuable resources, whether on campus or not. Be sure that you are set up with Duo, preferably with two methods to contact you. Most users configure a mobile phone and a landline phone.
      3) If you will need UT Dallas VPN service, install the appropriate software on your computer. VPN allows you to remotely connect to the campus network, accessing all resources as if you were physically on campus. Some UT Dallas services do not require VPN, including webmail, Box, or PeopleSoft / Galaxy, and eLearning. However, users who require access to a department shared directory or connect to a campus computer with Remote Desktop Protocol will use VPN to do so.

Securing Personally Owned Equipment

UT Dallas employees may use personal equipment at the direction of their supervisor, but these best practices must be addressed.

      1) Uninstall unnecessary and unlicensed software.
      2) Install patch updates for the operating system and software, such as your web browser.
      3) Enable your computer’s host-based firewall.
      4) Run an anti-malware utility and scan for virus infections.
      5) Implement a backups strategy.
      6) Encrypt your drive to mitigate risk in the event your equipment is stolen.
      7) Enable services which allow you to locate your equipment if stolen.
      8) Ensure physical security of your equipment to avoid theft.
      9) Minimize storage of UTD data on your personal equipment and remove it once your work task is completed.

If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding working from home, please contact the Information Security Office at [email protected] or by submitting a contact form at
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