Working from home (WFH) is a welcome idea among most workers because it offers them an opportunity to avoid daily commute, which saves on time and money. As much as that is the case, working from home presents cybersecurity risks affecting those operating outside a corporate network.
That implies that anyone who hacks into your home Wi-Fi network can compromise your computer even if the organization you work for provides virtual private network (VPN) access. For that reason, ensuring that sensitive files and documents remain confidential is something that remote employees cannot afford to overlook. The type of systems on a remote worker’s home network may also provide additional attack vectors and that is something worth considering.
On the other hand, if your business is making a more long-term shift towards remote work, you need to appreciate that remote workers will increase your entity’s chances for a data security breach. As such, both workers and company leaders should assume equal accountability in protecting their firm’s data.
First and foremost, educating employees about data security and how everyone is responsible for protecting the same should be part of the priorities of leaders. Initiating the necessary procedures and practices for strengthening data security for organizations working with remote workers is also critical.
Also, remote employees should focus on safe practices and data security education and commit to the measures in place. Here are some tips for securing sign-in processes for remote employees.
1. Invest in Firewalls, Anti-Malware and Antivirus Software
Requiring remote workers to have up-to-date firewalls, anti-malware, and antivirus software on every device they use, including laptops, cell phones, and tablets, is not an option. The option to wipe devices remotely when they go missing is also worth considering, and mobile device management platforms can perform most or all these tasks.
As a result, the devices that your remote employees use when handling office responsibilities will be secure, thus enhancing the safety of your company’s data. It is a fact that your remote workers do not have the same level of technical expertise. So, if data security is part of your priorities, you need to offer such individuals the technical support they need.
2. Consider Establishing A Cybersecurity Policy
Protecting company data is a challenge when remote employees do not understand that data security is paramount both at a personal and professional level. The assumption among most remote employees is that they do not need to worry about data security if they are not in the upper level of a firm’s hierarchy or if they are not in direct contact with client data.
Additionally, it is wrong for business owners to assume that remote workers know everything about cybersecurity and their role in it. The first step you should take as an employer, in this case, is establishing a cybersecurity policy. After that, you need to ensure that all new and existing remote workers review and sign the policy.
The policy document should outline all the security protocols that remote employees should comply with, the reasoning behind having the policy in the first place, details on the tools and resources the company will provide, and a provision for one to sign their commitment to following the policy in place. The protection of employer data is the responsibility of all individuals within your firm, and a policy document ensures that everyone knows what the expectations are.
3. Prioritize The Use of Encryption Software
When a remote worker loses their device, the information therein can land in the wrong hands, thereby exposing your company to vulnerabilities and data breaches. Encryption software prevents unauthorized persons from accessing your firm’s devices, facilitating the protection of company data.
Adopting end-to-end encryption for any programs your entity uses for applications, chatting, or email is also advisable. For instance, Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office can encrypt documents and files that remote workers use and share with their colleagues.
4. Secure All Internet Connections
Mostly, data security breaches happen due to the exposure of company information to unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Since remote employees have flexible working hours, the lure of a favorite hot beverage at a local coffee shop with other colleagues is often irresistible.
Although remote workers need to operate from an energizing and motivating environment, educating them on protecting company data is not an option. Using a VPN is the easiest solution, in this case, because it monitors any signs of infection and encrypts the internet traffic of your remote employees when they use it before signing on to public Wi-Fi connections.
Also, checking whether your VPN covers all the factors you need it to over and above last-mile encryption is a wise idea because not every other VPN will meet your expectations. Once you establish the minimum requirements of an ideal VPN, review the reputation of the provider you choose and compare the cost from different vendors.
5. Embrace Two-Factor Authentication
Data security management can assume different approaches, including two-factor authentication (2FA). Two-factor authentication confirms a user’s identity by requesting their username and password and any other information, which can be the PIN they receive on their mobile phone or an answer to a “secret question.”
Stealing or compromising passwords is possible, but 2FA reduces the chances of an unauthorized individual having a PIN or the answer to the additional security question. 2FA acts as an extra layer of protection for both your company and remote workers in an environment where passwords are no longer the only security option one should rely on.
Multi-factor authentication is another option a firm can consider, which requires additional verification involving biometrics like fingerprint, retina, or voice recognition. The process is more complex and expensive, but it may prove the best approach depending on the security requirements of your entity.
Remote employees do not have to compromise data security. By educating your remote workers and implementing the cybersecurity protocols above, these procedures will become the standard practices that all employees can commit to willingly. As a result, all your workers will be confident that they are playing their part in securing your organization’s data.