The workplace has witnessed a dramatic shift in the last few years. Within a short span, remote working has moved from a mere employee benefit to a major business trend. A significant number of companies are now allowing their employees to work remotely to increase productivity, promote healthier work-life, lower costs, improve employee retention, and to keep the business operations alive during a disaster. The global response to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused many companies to direct everyone who can to work remotely until further notice to avoid spreading the virus.
However, remote working has its challenges. Over 70% of IT professionals believe that remote workers pose a higher risk to security than onsite staff. To reap the rewards of having a remote team without exposing your business to cybercriminals, you need to review your current security measures. Here’s how to improve your remote business cybersecurity.
Invest in a Virtual Private Network
Working remotely gives employees immense flexibility. They can choose to complete tasks from home or any other place such as a coffee shop or public library. When your employee connects to public WiFi to access work files, they endanger your company. Cybercriminals use public networks to lay traps to unsuspecting users. They may monitor the employee’s traffic, intercept sensitive data, or use the network to plant malware.
To avoid these risks, invest in a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN will mask the IP address of the user, and encrypt all traffic. With this tool, any data that the employee sends or receives will be safe. When selecting a VPN software, make sure the vendor you pick is trustworthy and has a good reputation.
Improve End-Point Protection
The software, applications, and operating systems that your remote employees use play a big role when it comes to security. Hackers can take advantage of outdated and unpatched software to infiltrate your company, steal valuable information, or disrupt your business. Endpoint security is your last line of defense against digital attackers when all other security measures fail.
Since employees may be using different devices to access work files, ensure that all company-owned and personal devices have the latest software versions. Instead of notifying employees to update their systems, use a patch management tool to distribute updates to remote devices. To further beef up device security, provide each employee with antimalware tools, firewalls, and a threat monitoring platform.
Train Employees and Document Your Security Policy
Human error is the primary cause of data breaches. When employees are working remotely, they are even more likely to make costly mistakes since they are not being monitored. Even with the best cybersecurity framework, your employees are bound to make catastrophic errors if they aren’t properly trained. Start by creating a comprehensive security policy and then set a date for a cybersecurity seminar or workshop. Discuss the threats that the company has faced in the past and the measures you have put in place.
The training should cover the current security risks such as scams, phishing, ransomware, adware, identity theft, and viruses. You should also educate your staff on creating strong passwords, scrutinizing suspicious links and emails, safe web browsing habits, and what action to take when you detect an attack. To foster a culture of good security practices, make sure the training occurs regularly. Every new employee should be required to read the policy and acknowledge it.
Monitor Remote Workers, Remotely
Knowing how your remote workers are conducting themselves online can give you an edge when it comes to fighting online insecurity. Thanks to technology advances, businesses can now deploy various tools to monitor how their employees are handling and utilizing company assets when working at home. These tools are non-intrusive, and they don’t obstruct employees from their work. They allow you to know the specific task a team member is handling and the apps they are accessing using the company-issued device.
The virtual monitoring tool can take screenshots or provide you with a log file. This platform can help you spot employees who are exposing your company to cybersecurity threats and identify those who are slacking. When employees know they are being surveilled, they are more likely to be accountable. Before setting up a monitoring system, confirm with the local law experts to make sure you do it legally.
Designate a Point Person
To coordinate your cybersecurity efforts, you should appoint an expert to be in charge of all things cyber-related. This specialist should be well-versed in cybersecurity and be familiar with all the technologies used by your company’s remote workers. This individual’s role is to be the first point of contact whenever any employee encounters a cyber threat. Each employee should have this expert’s contacts, and the point person should always be available to guide the employee on what to do when an emergency occurs. This individual should constantly keep the management informed on any developments.
Even without the current global response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, remote working is on the rise, and small, and big businesses are adopting this trend. To avoid the risks that come with working remotely, companies need to readjust their cybersecurity measures. Make sure you formulate a policy, educate your employees, ensure your remote workers update and patch their software tools, and invest in the best remote cybersecurity technology.