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Remote work: Security best practices

by | Jan 19, 2021 | Security

As companies move toward long-term work from home arrangements, robust safeguards are necessary to protect against cyberattacks and other risks that come with remote work setups. Here are security best practices that you can incorporate into your remote work policy to help protect your distributed workforce from various threats.

Best practices for employers

The following are top remote work security best practices that businesses should observe.

Migrate key business applications to the cloud

The cloud employs advanced security features that guarantee safe data storage and handling and compliance with industry regulations. By moving key business applications to the cloud, you’re not only getting 24/7 access to your resources, but you’re also benefiting from security measures such as access control, authentication, and encryption.

What’s more, your resources are stored in a secure facility that’s managed and protected from unauthorized access and common hardware failures by trained IT technicians.

Require employees to connect over virtual private networks (VPNs)

Your employees may log in to their work accounts and access your company systems using unsecured or public Wi-Fi networks. To prevent malicious actors from intercepting sensitive business data, require your employees to use a VPN. Doing so allows them to establish a secure connection to your network and makes sure their online activities are virtually untraceable.

Enforce safe password practices

Hacking-related breaches often involve compromised and weak credentials. A simple solution is to use unique passwords, preferably combinations of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Require employees to use different passwords for different accounts and change these every two to three months.

If they’re prone to forgetting their passwords, have them use a password manager. This stores login information for all the sites they use and allows them to log in to their accounts automatically. Employees have to remember only one master password to access their encrypted password database.

Use multifactor authentication (MFA)

Enabling MFA provides an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide other credentials besides their password to verify their identity and gain network access. This could be a PIN, a code sent to their smartphone, a fingerprint scan, or other authentication factors.

Implement mobile device management (MDM) solutions

Whether your employees are using company-issued devices or personal gadgets to perform work-related tasks, you can keep track of these devices with MDM solutions. MDM is a type of security software that allows you to monitor and manage mobile devices that are part of your network. It lets you remotely set access restrictions, roll out software updates, and wipe the contents of the devices if they ever get lost or stolen.

Remote work security best practices for employees

Teach your employees these practices to ensure that your business resources are protected no matter where or when these are accessed.

Secure home Wi-Fi networks

Make sure your employees’ home Wi-Fi networks are secure, encrypted, and hidden. Ask them to password-protect their Wi-Fi and to set up their router so it doesn’t broadcast the network name. Doing these will make it harder for unauthorized users to connect to your employees’ home networks. If your staff are using public Wi-Fi, enforce the use of a VPN.

Observe physical security practices in public

Remind your employees to always be wary of their surroundings when accessing company data while in public. For instance, an employee might not notice that someone’s looking over their shoulder as they type their login credentials into their smartphone. It pays to err on the side of caution so they don’t unwittingly expose sensitive business data or processes to those nearby.

Run software updates regularly

Even if your business is already using an MDM solution, your employees should know how to update software on their own. These updates typically contain essential changes to improve the performance, stability, and security of the applications running on their devices. It’s recommended to activate automatic updates so patches are deployed on a regular basis.

Be wary of phishing emails

Phishing scams that prey on remote workers are on the rise, which is why it’s crucial that your employees know how to spot potential phishing attacks. Remind them to be cautious when opening unsolicited emails and never click on suspicious links.

You can also hold regular security awareness training to teach your employees how to recognize and safeguard themselves from different social engineering attacks.

Avoid using work devices for non-work-related activities

A host of problems can arise when employees use business devices for personal reasons. This can not only affect productivity but also run the risk of exposing company devices to online threats. Make sure employees use company devices to perform only business-related tasks and their own devices for personal purposes.