Remote working is becoming a more common phenomenon thanks to its flexibility and, most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, many new challenges are emerging when it comes to managing an out-of-office workforce. Cyber security is one of the most acknowledged ones.
And there is a genuine reason to be careful because a report released in August 2020 by the International Police Agency shows an upsurge in cybercrimes following the pandemic.
What’s more, the targets for criminals have changed from individuals to state departments, organizations, and other larger establishments.
Cyber Security Risks Remote Workers Face
So, why does the work-from-home approach pose more security risks than working from an office?
Although we’re exposed to some risks any time we are connected to the internet, an office setting usually has beefed up security measures. These include:
- Automatic cloud backup
- Antivirus software
- User authentication
- Limited access to data based on admin permissions
Conversely, when working from home, chances are your workers don’t even have a Wi-Fi password setup, or it’s something easily decipherable.
Plus, if they like to work from a local coffee shop or use public Wi-Fi the risks increase even more, as these networks can be accessed by attackers as well.
The most common risky situations that you need to warn your remote workers about are:
- Shared use of devices and poor physical security– This includes leaving work devices unlocked while away, allowing non-staff to use their work devices, and using the company’s devices for personal use, such as online shopping, playing internet games, and downloading music or movies.
- Use of Public Wi-Fi – Staff members logging into the workplace networks using Wi-Fi in popular places like coffee shops are more prone to cyberattacks because such Wi-Fi networks are insecure and get accessed by tons of people.
Tips To Enhance your Remote Workforce’s Cyber Security
Although remote work comes with its share of security challenges, the good news is that you can easily prevent and minimize most of them.
Here are some of the best ways to avoid and reduce cyberattacks:
1. Move Your Communications to the Cloud
Both your internal and external communications pose some of the most significant vulnerabilities when they are not properly secured. This is due to the constant virtual interaction that happens between your employees and your customers.
Using mobile devices to handle phone calls might leave a door open for attackers to steal data or install malware without your workers noticing.
A great solution is to use a cloud-based phone instead of cellphones and personal devices that might be more vulnerable to attacks.
A cloud phone can help reduce cyberattacks by using innovations in IP technology such as advanced identity management, encryption and cloud storage.
And the advantage is that providers of hosted phone services use measures to safeguard their networks and constantly review them; hence you won’t need to spend time on that.
2. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
Since remote workers may use insecure networks, having them use a VPN is a significant security measure.
A VPN comes in handy to prevent anyone from prying on what you are doing online by encrypting your virtual footsteps.
Additionally, a VPN ensures that third parties like your internet provider, hackers, or visited websites won’t be able to track your activities and location.
The downside is that running a VPN can make your connection to work slower and negatively impact tasks that are sensitive to the bandwidth.
3. Set Your Devices to Lock Automatically
Unauthorized use of work devices is an existing risk if you’re used to working in public areas.
Also, if remote workers live with family members or friends, they could accidentally delete important information, unknowingly download malware or otherwise cause the device to stop working normally.
Activating automatic locking on their gadgets would be the best solution. Unless someone enters their password, outsiders cannot do anything to the work data or the networks.
4. Implement Password Security Measures
You need to sensitize your remote staff about various password measures that can thwart cyberattacks. These measures include:
- Ensuring all accounts have strong passwords to protect them,
- Avoiding the use of similar passwords across several accounts,
- Activating the two-factor authentication for all accounts.
5. Keep your Software Updated
All the apps, browsers, and software your remote staff use is constantly enhanced through updates. These updates patch security flaws, help protect your data and improve the software’s overall performance.
Since your remote staff can be susceptible to different threats, telling them to install updates on a regular basis can protect them from attacks.
The good thing is that most updates are automatic, and the device users can set the best time for them to happen. For example, outside working hours, this way they’ll have little or no interruption.
6. Have a Regular Backup Policy
Although all of the measures discussed above are normally sufficient for most businesses, it is always wise to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
One such action is requiring remote staff to back up their work data regularly or using a cloud storage tool where all the information is accessible at all times.
This is essential because remote workers could, for some reason, lose access to the hardware where they have stored their working information or it could get stolen.
Cloud backup is the most secure, cost-effective, and convenient method of storing business data safely.
Remote work is here to stay, but so are the cyber security challenges that accompany it. It is the duty of all businesses to have a security policy for their employees and teach them best practices to avoid unwanted scenarios.
We have outlined the best practices most businesses use and recommend, such as taking advantage of cloud computing, using a VPN, using strong passwords and automatic lock, and finally updating software and backing up data frequently.
These measures are easy to implement and highly cost-efficient. You just gotta make sure to assess your alternatives carefully and choose the providers that best suit your business needs.
The more sensitive your business data is, the more measures you’ll need to set up.