If you're doing work at home and are connected to the Internet using a DSL or cable modem, the same information that's locked away at work may be sitting out in the open at home.
"If you have a DSL or cable connection, you have a static IP address and are exposed to the world," says Frederick Johnson, president and CIO of Ross-Tek, a computer consulting firm. "That address is broadcast and is accessible by anyone."
People often let their guard down at home because they don't feel they are targets.
"The biggest thing I hear from people is, 'Who am I? Nobody is looking to attack me,'" says Johnson. "They think they don't have anything of value or produce anything that someone would be interested in. That's what makes you the perfect target, because you have a system that is unprotected.
"They can use your PC to launch attacks unbeknownst to you and go after companies they are interested in."
If you do have something of interest on your home PC or laptop, whether it's a customer list, sales figures or other sensitive documents, you could be putting your business at risk.
"Once a static IP address becomes active, it takes about 10 minutes to be known to the world," says Johnson. "You'll get hit by someone trying to get in on a daily basis. If you have a cable modem or DSL and no firewall, that is a foolish thing to do."
Johnson says any of the firewall packages on the market are enough to protect you.
"It doesn't have to be expensive," says Johnson. "But don't just install it, make sure it's doing its job. Make sure it's blocking the ports like it's supposed to. If you are going to get a cable modem or DSL line, they are wonderful things to have, but with that luxury comes some responsibility." How to reach: Ross-Tek, (216) 289-5859