4 Keys To Manage Your Remote Working Security
Even if you feel that your security has you covered, it’s always a good idea to revisit your strategy and check for weak points.
One of the most visible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the significant increase in remote working. Forced by stay-at-home orders and quarantine measures, businesses of all sizes and across all industries resorted to the work from home model. The jump has been quite impressive. According to preliminary estimates, 44% of US employees are now working from their homes full time, a considerable bump from the 17% of the pre-pandemic times.
With such a trend, it’s not surprising that many predict that remote work is a model that’s here to stay, even in industries that traditionally shunned it. This topic has been widely discussed to the point of exhaustion. Strangely enough, another discussion that’s as necessary as the new shape of work doesn’t seem to be on the table for a lot of people — even when it stems from the remote work itself. I’m referring to remote working security.
Of that 44% of the workforce that’s now fully working from their homes, there are surely many people who hadn’t worked remotely ever before. So, it’s safe to assume that many of them weren’t prepared to work like that. The pandemic has been going on for months now, so it’s likely that everything related to infrastructure and remote practices has already been covered. But what about security?
Back in April, the World Health Organization was already warning of a cyber pandemic, alarmed by the fivefold increase in attacks since the Coronavirus struck. It’s shocking to learn, then, that a recent survey found out that 70% of respondents don’t believe that the crisis will lead to cybersecurity becoming a higher priority.
Needless to say, an unprepared workforce along with a business leadership more worried about coping with the crisis is the perfect scenario for cyberattacks to thrive. That’s why it’s essential to manage remote working security more effectively. Even if you feel that your security has you covered, it’s always a good idea to revisit your strategy and check for weak points. And if you haven’t already, you need to enforce the 4 keys below, which will better safeguard your company and your remote employees from cyber attacks.
Train Your Staff On Best Security Practices
You should establish an ongoing training program to help your employees know the best way to protect themselves and the company’s assets while working remotely. The program should cover the basics (such as using two-factor authentication for logging into services and identifying the telling signs of phishing attacks). Still, they don’t necessarily need to stop there.
You can also tackle different topics that feel relevant, such as the vulnerabilities of working on open networks or even the risks of using default security configurations in all the systems they use. What’s more — you can also focus on more theoretical concepts about data management and privileged access or security procedures when detecting breaches.
You shouldn’t see the training program as a one-time effort, as IT security is never a static affair. Cyber threats evolve and change over time (sometimes very quickly), so you need to be on top of your security strategy by extending any new knowledge you have on security to the rest of the staff. That’s the only way you can cover the most vulnerable link in your company — the people.
Use VPNs For Granting Network Access
If you regularly used an on-site corporate network for employees to go about their daily tasks, then working remotely has surely forced you to allow those remote connections. Unfortunately, doing this without the proper precautions can open up your corporate door for cybercriminals to enter your systems at will.
One of the best ways to prevent that from happening is to provide your employees with a trusted Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. With it, you put a solid foundation to prevent attacks coming from unsecured home connections. How come? Because a VPN provides a secure connection that hides the user’s IP, encrypts the data that goes through it, and prevents an unknown party from accessing their physical location.
Naturally, not all VPNs are the same. There are plenty of these solutions in the market, so you’ll have to research the available alternatives and decide on a reputable partner. The final decision will have to combine a series of things: ease of configuration and use, subscription price, number of features, and core technologies.
Adopt The Cloud As Your Core
The fact that you might have an internal system doesn’t prevent your employees from storing sensitive data in their devices or sending it through unsecured channels. Besides teaching them the importance of safeguarding said data, it’s also crucial for you to embrace several cloud-based solutions as the core of your daily workflow.
There are so many cloud-based platforms that you can find virtually any tool you need for your tasks. There are CRMs, office and design suites, enterprise software, and plenty more. And even if you don’t find the right platform for you, you can always hire developers to work on a customized version of the tool you have in mind. Doing that will provide you with further control over the entire digital ecosystem, especially when it comes to security.
You might be wondering why the cloud is suitable for your security. Well, there’s the benefit of keeping all your files in a secure environment rather than on your employees’ devices. Then, there’s the possibility of using built-in security features developed by engineers solely devoted to that purpose. And then there are the backups that all cloud providers do of your information, meaning that you’ll always have your information in case of data loss.
Establish Secure Data Practices
Speaking of backups, be sure that every file and task you and your employees do on the cloud has its corresponding backup. Though there are systems that do so automatically, you’ll have to opt into them in other cases, which can be a problem if people aren’t aware of those features in the first place. This is one of the several secure data practices that you have to enforce within your organization.
There’s also the need to define the best way to send data to other team members, establish privilege levels to ensure that only vetted people can access certain information, and design strategies for people that work on their devices (akin to the BYOD policies that are already somewhat standard across many industries).
Using security software and keeping all applications updated is also something you need to keep an eye on. You can ask your employees to turn on automatic updates, so you can rest assured that all programs (especially those that handle sensitive information) are always up to date and patched up to their latest versions.
The World Beyond The Pandemic
Someday the pandemic will end and we’ll have to build a “new normalcy” that takes into account all the things we’ve learned throughout these tough times. It’s highly likely that, in that new scenario, working from home will be part of the new standard so many are talking about. So, if that’s in your future, then it’s in your best interest to develop a solid remote strategy today to be better prepared when the time comes.
In that way, paying attention to security isn’t just a way to safeguard your data today, it’s the path to building stronger foundations for the working model of the short-term future. Many of those who haven’t worked from their homes before will want to keep that possibility from now on, so by investing in remote security today, you’ll create a more secure future for the distributed workplace that awaits us.