The benefits of remote work are countless. Yes, managing a remote team and keeping your most sensitive information and data secure at the same time can be difficult. How to maintain security when employees work remotely?
As long as your devices are online, you’re at risk. Your remote team will need access to documents, login credentials in order to perform smoothly wherever they’re located.
Before developing a checklist of best security practices, let’s briefly discuss what data security really is.
What is Data Security?
Data security is a set of standards and technologies that protect data from intentional or accidental destruction, modification, or disclosure.
Despite the numerous benefits of going remote, there are serious risks that still come with this trend. Risks that if left unaddressed early could mean serious losses for companies.
What are these risks? Why is data security important?
When you’re working remotely, there are certain risks that have to be faced by the company and its employees. Whether it is the security of the client information or the firm’s servers, proper training can familiarize employees with a number of security breaches along with the methods to secure information from unsuspecting victims.
Let us talk about some major concerns and related security checklists and take the first steps to build a stronger and more secure remote workforce.
Less Security on BYOD and Mobile Devices
With so many people now working from home, there is a huge risk when working with borderless employees. Even the larger companies with multi-millions of budgets face difficulties in managing a remote workforce.
In this pandemic, people are using their own devices which can expose their important data to several other vulnerabilities.
Enforcing strict password policies, and asking all the employees to secure their laptops they intend to use for work is a major concern.
Bring Your Own Device or BYOD policy is a checklist that allows the employees to stay more productive when they are able to manage their personal and professional lives from the same device of their choice.
Also, the lack of uniformity occurs when there is a rise in a competition like Apple vs. Android, PC vs. Mac, giving a headache within the workplace. BYOD also creates difficulty when trying to determine who is accessing what from where.
Here’s a BYOD checklist.
Data breaches inevitably happen. One of the major threats is phishing. Not only COVID 19 based but there are so many organizations who have warned of recent phishing scams.
According to a recent survey, people are exploiting the coronavirus through mass emails posing as legitimate health organizations, they warn. Mails are also being used to sell fake medical products like masks, vaccines and Covid-19 testing kits, or push work-from-home job offers.
- There is always a grey line between what an employee needs and what information is considered sensitive.
- Not all of your employees need access to everything all the time. In such situations it is recommended to always prioritize your data.
- Considering Mobile Device Management Systems (MDM) allows companies to track and oversee the mobile use of their employees.
- This approach generally allows a company to extend BYOD to the global audience as it only tracks the data that employees need.
To gain a foothold in corporate or governmental networks, no doubt why there are plenty of cybercriminals looking to cash in on the trend.
Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information that occurs when an attacker uses disguised email as a weapon. It is often used to steal user data, including login credentials and credit card numbers.
One necessary initiative would be to set anti-phishing goals for your company. Hackers aim to acquire sensitive information through phishing scams. According to a 2020 Proofpoint study, 90% of organizations experienced phishing attacks in 2019.
In order to keep your employees and corporate data safe from malware, identity theft, and loss, it is important to avoid getting hooked by phishing schemes.
- If an unsolicited email arrives in your inbox, never reply to the message or click on any links and download suspicious attachments. Never trust an email or website that asks for personal, corporate, or financial information. Legitimate companies will never ask for such data via email.
- Install a web browser toolbar to help protect against known phishing websites.
- Run anti-malware software, and regularly update it.
- Use a firewall.
A virtual private network (VPN) is a technology that creates a safe, encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as the public internet.
Using a VPN like Private Internet Access allows you to encrypt your internet traffic and enhance your privacy to both governments and companies. This makes it so that your internet service provider (ISP) will not be able to see what you are doing and track your actions.
If the target uses Single Sign-On (SSO), the attacker also has a valid domain login. Very quickly, the attacker has infiltrated the network, can start reconnaissance using the domain login, and attempt privilege escalations.
How can you resolve VPN security issues?
Day-by-day it is becoming difficult to secure your data from the attackers as they know the tricks to create another avenue of access to the network. But the question is how can you secure your network by ensuring the benefits of your VPN? Let’s check it out here.
Enforcing the strongest password policy
- When working remotely, a strong password policy should be implemented in the absence of two-factor authentication. No one should be allowed to keep passwords which could be guessed easily.
- They should be strong and long enough with a proper character and number set for the sake of privacy and security.
Limiting VPN access information
- VPN access should be given those only with a valid business reason and when necessary. Remote employees shouldn’t be connected all day to check the emails.
Instead, enable email access without requiring VPN access.
Providing strong antivirus protection
- If every computer is connected to the same VPN, there are high chances of getting your devices infected. In order to retain the system work without bringing a halt in the business, strong antivirus, antispam, and personal firewall protection should be provided to your remote users, and the requirement to install it.
Insufficient Data and Recovery Systems
In remote work, you specifically use your own devices due to which there are high chances of losing data and “no recovery options” due to inadequate backup or causing data to become corrupted.
Losing files and documents can cause a lasting impact on your company’s financial health.
The study shows the following data set where the data loss caused by viruses and corruption has cost the business to weed out and repair damaged files.
- 94 % of companies that experience severe data loss do not recover
- 51 % of these companies close within two years of the data loss
- 43 % of these companies do not reopen again
- 70 % of small firms go out of business within a year of a large data loss incident
Offering flexible time and remote work locations is a great benefit that can help you keep your best employees. But it can also be risky when it comes to keeping your data secure. Here are a few strategies to help you keep data secure.
Usually, employees do not take data security as a concern at both personal and professional levels. Every company should dive into establishing a cybersecurity policy. It should be signed and reviewed by all the existing employees regardless of whether they work remotely or not.
Whether it is relying on Two-Factor Authentication or entering passwords safely, password protection is the key to secure the company’s data.
Make sure your employees do not keep the same passwords for every platform. Use a password generator to create passwords that are hacker-resistant.
Migrate data to the cloud
Cloud services ensure that their infrastructure is secure and their users’ data is protected. Also, the cloud allows you to access your data from any device, whenever and wherever you want. You only need to keep the backup of your data.
Let’s not be hesitant to embrace remote because of the perceived security risks. Of course, there are times when you need to communicate with fellow workers, and it’s common for those emails to include sensitive information.
Are you ready to secure and protect your critical assets from intentional or accidental disasters?
There are several other security considerations that must be explored in order to secure your enterprise. What others can be? Do you have something in mind?
Share your insightful thoughts with us. Drop a comment in the comment section or you send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.