Remote workers have become increasingly popular in the modern workplace. According to the 2018 Global Workplace Analytics’ report, more than 5 million wage and salary employees comfortably worked from home at least half the time in 2018.
Working from home presents several benefits to both the employer and staff. However, the COVID-19 crisis has forced many organizations to frantically implement work-from-home policies on short notice without proper preparation. This only adds to remote-working concerns, chief among which is cybersecurity. Shifting from the typical on-site workplace arrangement can potentially expose serious remote working security vulnerabilities.
Why you need a security-first approach
Managing an off-site workforce makes it difficult to control remote working security risks in two main ways. First, the company is not in control of the end-user devices. Home-based workers can use their personal computers, smartphones, and networks to get the job done.
For many organizations, remote working means collaborating on a cloud-based platform and exchanging data among co-workers through emails, phone calls, and online conferencing. The entire enterprise is put at risk if only one employee computer is riddled with malware or is excessively vulnerable to attacks.
Below are some practical remote working security measures you can take to secure your company’s data when working with home-based employees.
Deploy a virtual private network (VPN)
Your remote workers can connect to the company’s network and online resources through different internet connections. Most domestic and public internet connections are not secure enough for sensitive business transactions and communication. Furthermore, hackers can gain access to the company’s network by exploiting weak or compromised access points such as public Wi-Fi. And since you cannot dictate the connection that every one of your employees should use, the best solution is to install a VPN.
A VPN provides a secure encrypted tunnel to transmit data between the company network and remote users. The private network adds an extra layer of security on any connection, ensuring that the transmitted information cannot be intercepted or read by anyone. Using a VPN guarantees that the data and connection are secured even when transmitted from a questionable node.
Add multi-factor authentication (MFA) to everything you can
Passwords alone are not secure enough, especially when dealing with remote workers. Single-factor authentication does not fully verify users because it’s possible for others to get a hold of the correct username-password combination. This means that anyone can log into the company’s accounts, provided they possess the right credentials. And given how easy it has become to hack passwords, that is not a chance you want to take.
MFA is a user authentication system that identifies users by verifying different types of credentials. Once the user logs in using a password, the system then requests a secondary set of credentials. These multiple factors can be one-time passwords (OTP) sent via phone and email, biometric scans, or security questions.
A remote working security system aims to ensure that only permitted users can access secured accounts and resources. MFA provides an additional active security layer for data access points, account logins, and transaction permissions. With an MFA system, stolen credentials and successful phishing attempts don’t pose much of a threat.
Train employees on best practices and secure workflows
In a remote working environment and even in the usual workplace, your employees are the first line of defense against cyber-attacks. According to a recent survey conducted by Shred-it, 60 percent of business owners believe that the risk of data breaches goes up when employees work remotely.
The best thing you can do for your employees whether they are working from home or right in the office is instilling in them a sense of responsibility for the organization’s digital assets. Educate them on observing online hygiene and following cybersecurity best practices. Bring them all on board with any additional security measures by training them to use unfamiliar security tools such as VPNs and MFA. Also, make sure they understand the importance of abiding by the laid-out security guidelines despite any associated inconveniences.
Remote working security is mostly about controlling the endpoint users and devices as much as possible since that’s as far as you can stretch a security strategy to cover remote workers. Sensitizing your employees, using a VPN service, and implementing an MFA system seal most of the majorly exploitable security loopholes. Get in touch with us to learn more about cybersecurity and protecting digital assets for when you are out of the office and for when your back in your work throne.