With the world’s largest work-from-home experiment still taking place in different parts of the globe, remote workers remain a hot target for cybercriminals. Social engineering attacks such as phishing scams are spiking, which is why it’s crucial that your business overcomes the risks that come with remote-work setups.
Cybersecurity issues with remote work
Managing the security of a remote workforce can be difficult, especially if this is the first time your employees will be working from home. If they’re not careful, they may unknowingly put your business at great risk.
Here are some common remote work-related habits that can introduce a wide assortment of cybersecurity issues to your company.
1. CONNECTING TO UNSAFE WI-FI NETWORKS
Your employees could be logging in to their work accounts and accessing sensitive information using unsecured or public Wi-Fi networks. This is risky because malicious users can easily spy on their connection and intercept unencrypted confidential data.
By connecting to unsafe Wi-Fi networks, your employees are also running the risk of falling victim to fake hotspots — wireless access points set up by cybercriminals to trap and exploit unsuspecting users.
Prevent your employees from accessing any unknown Wi-Fi networks unless they have a virtual private network (VPN). Using a VPN will allow them to establish a more secure connection and make sure their online actions are virtually untraceable.
2. USING PERSONAL DEVICES TO WORK
Another thing your employees could be doing is using their smartphones or tablets to work. This seemingly harmless practice can actually compromise your business by exposing your data to apps that carry malware, spyware, and adware.
Some employees also don’t keep their software up to date, which leaves their devices and your data vulnerable to theft and other cyberthreats.
That’s why you need to keep track of the devices used by your employees for work-related matters. Ideally, you’d provide them with work laptops, but you can also utilize mobile device management (MDM) solutions. MDM is a type of security software that you can use to monitor and manage mobile devices that are part of your network. It lets you set access restrictions for mobile devices and even remotely wipe their contents if they’re ever lost or stolen.
3. NOT OBSERVING PHYSICAL SECURITY PRACTICES IN PUBLIC
Your employees could be overlooking the most basic security measure: physical security. For instance, an employee might not notice that someone’s looking over their shoulder as they enter their login credentials into their phone or laptop. Or they might leave their laptop unattended in a public place.
Remind your employees to always err on the side of caution and be wary of their surroundings. This ensures they don’t accidentally expose business data or processes to those nearby.
The importance of a remote work security policy
The best way to fortify your defenses against cybersecurity threats is by having a strong remote work security policy. This encompasses tools and tactics that you and your employees can implement to protect your data no matter where you are.
Below are the two most important elements that should be included in your remote-work policy.
1. LIST OF TRUSTED TOOLS AND PLATFORMS
Make sure your employees are using only trusted devices — such as their work-issued laptop — and approved software — such as cloud storage platforms, instant messaging or video conferencing apps, and project management tools. This way, you won’t also have to juggle multiple tools and platforms.
The three fundamental security tools that your employees must use are multifactor authentication (MFA), a VPN, and a firewall. MFA acts as an additional layer of security when accessing accounts by requiring users to provide another credential besides their password to verify their identity.
A VPN connection is crucial when connecting to unsecured networks. This is especially helpful if your employees don’t have Wi-Fi at home. Meanwhile, a firewall is hardware or software that prevents unauthorized access to and from a network, and this works well for home wireless networks.
2. GUIDELINES TO FOLLOW AT THE FIRST SIGNS OF DATA COMPROMISE
If your employees believe that company data has been breached or compromised, they should know which steps to take next.
Create a guideline that includes how to report the incident and instructions on how to change their passwords and disconnecting from the network to isolate the threat. It’s also worth investing in cybersecurity training to help employees detect and protect themselves against various cyberthreats.
Another thing you can do is to enlist the help of an expert. You’d have a better chance of protecting your business and employees with someone who knows how to handle the nuanced processes involved in effectively managing remote work.