As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increased number of businesses are offering their employees the ability to work remotely. Even with businesses around the country starting to reopen, many employers are choosing to continue moving forward with remote work opportunities in order to reduce the risk of infection and increase overall efficiency for employees. Unfortunately, that can also open up businesses to increased cybersecurity risks. If you have employees working remotely, make sure you are following these critical best practices.
1. Understand Your Risk Factors
When it comes to remote workers, there are several key factors that can raise your business’s risk. These include:
- Users choosing to use personal devices to connect to the work network
- Unsecured wireless networks
- Phishing scams
- Devices used for both personal and business responsibilities
IT teams and companies must understand these potential risk factors and how they have the potential to impact business cybersecurity. Working from home introduces unique risks and threats, but effective teams can help decrease those risks. Carefully evaluate the risks your team may face so that you can introduce security protocols to help reduce the risks to your business.
2. Educate Employees
One of the most effective things you can do to help protect your business is providing adequate cybersecurity education. Whether employees are working from home or in the office, they continue to pose the biggest threat to your business–not because of deliberate malice, but because they may inadvertently allow a risk to occur. Employees need to understand:
- How to secure their home networks
- How to ensure that their personal devices remain malware free
- How to spot scams and scammers and avoid falling prey to their schemes
- What to do if they suspect their security has been compromised
Virtual training sessions can help keep employees informed about the latest measures your company requires and ensure that they’re prepared to maintain virtual security while working from home. Keep in mind that many employees may take actions at home that they do not consider threats: allowing family members to use their work devices, for example, or leaving their devices logged in while they go about their day, since they have the security of being at home. Unfortunately, these steps can offer significant security compromises. Instead, make sure employees receive a full education about how to keep their devices and networks safe while working from home.
3. Create Effective Security Protocols
Educating your workers is a vital first step, but it’s not the only step your business needs to take. You should also take the steps necessary to create a highly effective security protocol that will maintain as much safety as possible for your business.
Require Secure Passwords
Passwords help protect your business’s data and ensure that not just anyone can get access to your systems. Institute security policies that require secure passwords. If possible, consider implementing the use of a password manager across your company to increase overall password security.
Utilize Multifactor Authentication
Multifactor authentication relies on more than just a password to help keep your users and your system secure. Users must, in addition to providing a password, show that they have access to a device that belongs to a specific user within the company–often a cell phone. This process adds a few steps to the authentication process and helps significantly increase overall security.
Use a Secure Application Gateway
A secure gateway can raise security as your users connect to the network, which will significantly increase the odds that they will be able to maintain security while still connecting from wherever they might be.
Forbid Access from Unsecured Networks
Employees may need to work remotely, but that does not mean they need to work from a random location. Coffee shops, libraries, and other public locations may provide unsecured public WiFi, which can entice scammers and hackers. Even using an unsecured network at home can increase the risk of a cybersecurity threat. By forbidding access to your company network when employees use an unsecured network to log in, you can increase your overall security.
Even with full employee education and other IT security measures clearly put in place, you may face cyber threats. Make sure your security team monitors user access, including monitoring any unusual activity on the network. This simple action can put your team in a position to catch a threat before it has a chance to become more serious.
4. Check Your BYOD Policy
Many companies, over the past several years, have instituted Bring Your Own Device policies. These policies make users responsible for their own devices, including cell phones or other equipment, while also allowing employees to choose the exact model they want to use, rather than being forced into the one the company chooses due to budget constraints.
BYOD policies, however, can pose security risks–especially when employees make the shift to working from home. When employees provide their own devices, they may assume that they can choose how they want to use that device, even if it means that their personal activities take place on the same network as their work devices. While cell phones are usually personal devices, laptops and computers may be shared between members of the family, especially if the kids want to do some browsing after work hours. As a result, users may invite more security threats.
Take a close look at your company’s device policy, and make sure that it fits your current needs, including your security needs. You may want to consider providing company devices for your employees so that you can require them to keep those devices separate.
Maintaining security becomes increasingly challenging when workers take care of most of their duties remotely. That does not necessarily mean, however, that you cannot protect company networks and keep them as safe as possible. Do you need more help making the shift to a remote environment or ensuring that employees have the support they need to take care of their job duties remotely? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.