When all your workers are working from the same location, it’s easy to manage their devices and network access. But when your employees are working remotely, managing security becomes much harder.
What steps can you take to improve security when working remotely – without killing your budget in the process?
Work With Professionals
First, consider working with a professional IT/security consultant. These experts are thoroughly trained in cybersecurity, and they’re prepared to share the full extent of their knowledge and experience with you. They can analyze your existing cybersecurity defenses and strategies, analyze the biggest risks to your organization, and make recommendations for improvements across the board.
This is an upfront investment that can pay off significantly. A single data breach can be financially and logistically devastating to your business, so you can’t afford to gamble on internal strategies that contain vulnerabilities.
Manage Devices and Connections Carefully
One of the biggest security challenges you face as a remote or hybrid business is managing devices and connections. In a traditional office environment, your business would have direct control over everything; you’d provide the devices, keep those devices contained in the office, and manage an exclusive network for your employees to use.
In a decentralized or remote environment, employees will be using a mix of different devices for their work activities. They’ll likely be using personal networks. They may even be likely to use public networks for work activities.
The best approach here is to have a bring your own device (BYOD) or device management policy. Explain to your employees, specifically, what devices they’re allowed to use, the networks they can utilize, and what security precautions they need to take.
Invest in a VPN and Firewall
A virtual private network (VPN) is a product that allows you to create a secure connection between employee devices and your network. A firewall is a product that allows you to tightly control traffic on your network. While these products certainly don’t represent a perfectly secure strategy by themselves, they can increase the control and security of your organization when it’s operating remotely.
Vet Your Vendors and Partners
If you’re not careful, you can be exposed to security vulnerabilities through your vendors and partners. Before adopting a new product, signing up for a new service, or integrating another party’s software with your own, vet your vendors and partners. Make sure they have proper security protocols in place and evaluate risks before moving forward.
While certainly not exclusive to remote and hybrid work environments, it’s important to make thorough backups of all your company’s most important data. This way, if you’re ever the target of a ransomware attack or if your data is otherwise rendered inaccessible, you can conveniently restore a recent backup and minimize downtime.
Instate Multifactor Authentication
Multifactor authentication is an important setting available in most apps and services. Essentially, it requires employees to provide multiple forms of proof of identity; in addition to providing a username and password, employees must also enter a code sent to a device affiliated with them. This simple step prevents most security risks that stem from stolen or easily guessed passwords. Think of it as an extra layer of protection that can keep your remote employees and devices secure.
Keep Everything Updated
It’s a simple step, but an important one. Keep every device and piece of software in your arsenal updated at all times. Occasionally, cybercriminals will discover vulnerabilities that exist in certain iterations of software; in response, developers are usually quick to issue a patch that closes the vulnerability. But this can only help you if you keep your software actively updated. Enable automatic updates for everyone for the best results.
Educate and Train Employees
Finally, keep in mind that employees are sometimes your biggest security risk. A single mistake by an ignorant or careless employee could put your entire operation in jeopardy. Provide more thorough education and training to your employees to prepare them for proper security in the remote work era.
- Password management. Simple, repetitive, and easily guessed passwords are major security risks for your organization. Teach your employees how to select strong passwords and mandate that they use a different password for each account.
- Device management. It’s also important that employees are aware of the vulnerabilities of physical devices. They should never leave work devices unattended or use them on public networks.
- Common scams. Social engineering is a common way for cybercriminals to steal information. Inform your employees about common scams to avoid, such as phishing scams.
Remote and hybrid work environments do present some additional challenges for cybersecurity, but they’re not unconquerable. With some proactive planning, and ample layers of protection, you can keep your organization and its people secure.