In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become the new standard across many industries. While some organizations have had remote employees for years, there are now more remote workers than ever before.
Employees enjoy remote work because it gives them more freedom and comfort, which actually increases productivity and job satisfaction. However, with the increase of remote workers comes a larger need for cybersecurity. Each remote worker you employ creates several potential cybersecurity risks for your company, and it’s important to address and secure these vulnerabilities. In this article, we’ll discuss the biggest cybersecurity risks of having remote employees and ways to mitigate them.
Here are the three biggest risks of having a remote workforce:
A zero-day attack is a virus that takes advantage of a security vulnerability before the developer issues a patch. Much of the time, the first batch of these attacks happen before the vulnerability is known.
Ransomware holds your files hostage by encrypting your hard drive. The attacker promises to decrypt your files when you pay a ransom, usually demanded in Bitcoin.
These are the emails that appear to be from a trusted contact, but are actually from a scammer. These emails often request personal information, login data, and bank account information.
Here are seven steps for creating a secure remote workforce.
1. Require the Use of Antivirus Software
If you provide laptops for your employees, you can load them with antivirus software and control what software can be downloaded to each machine. If your remote workers use their own devices for work, you can’t control them, but you can require the installation and use of antivirus software.
Providing your remote workers with an antivirus software suite will provide automatic security against common threats like zero-day attacks, ransomware, spyware, malware, and DDoS attacks. The right software will automatically update itself to keep each installation up to date with newly discovered threats.
Add a clause in your employment contract that requires remote workers to keep their work devices to themselves and not allow friends and family to use them for any reason. Devices used for work should be protected with a password that is kept private.
Each unauthorized person who has access to someone’s work device is a security risk to your company. If a friend or family member has bad intentions, or if they take the laptop to a coffee shop and use free, unsecured public Wi-Fi, your company data will be at risk.
Remote workers will likely need to attend some video conferences through apps like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Since hackers can sometimes access webcams, it’s critical to require remote employees to blur their backgrounds. If you use a platform that doesn’t have this feature, consider switching to a platform that does.
Your company data, including client data, might be visible through a worker’s webcam. If a hacker has infiltrated the meeting, they might be able to access that information without anyone’s knowledge.
Webcam attacks may not be as common as other types of cyberattacks, but you can’t be too careful with remote workers. Every potential risk should be secured.
Cybersecurity training will go a long way to protect your company when you have a remote workforce. Security systems and software applications are only effective when your remote employees follow security best practices.
For example, a login policy that only allows access based on device is useless if an employee lets other people use their device. Likewise, having a secure password is only effective if that password is kept private. The minute a remote worker shares their login credentials with someone else, your company account is compromised.
Many people don’t secure their wireless home networks, and that’s a big risk when they’re using that network to access company accounts and data. A hacker might scour the neighborhood until they find an unsecured network to hijack.
The ideal situation is having a separate network for work that no one else can access. However, that might be asking too much from people who aren’t tech-savvy. The easiest solution is to require all remote employees to secure their home Wi-Fi networks with the WPA3 encryption protocol.
The more data storage accounts you have, the more vulnerable you are to hackers. Choose your data storage platform and make sure your remote employees use it. Don’t allow anyone to store company files on other platforms for any reason.
If your workers don’t like your chosen platform, ask them why. It might be difficult to use, in which case it might be worth considering making a change. However, if you’re already using an industry-standard solution with high security and advanced search features, you might just need to train your remote workers. As with any storage system, always have an offline backup of your data just in case your cloud storage account is compromised.
While workers should avoid sending passwords, financial data, and Social Security numbers, other sensitive information might need to be sent over email. If your workers routinely share sensitive data in emails, then encryption is a must-have.
Encrypting emails can prevent data breaches and data exposure in several ways. When company emails are encrypted, they can’t be read by anyone who doesn’t have the decryption key. This means if someone hacks your remote worker’s email account, they won’t be able to read company emails.
Now that working from home has become widespread, cybersecurity for remote workers is more essential than ever. It’s important to implement specific security protocols, but always remember to supplement those protocols with training and education.
First Class Connection specializes in reinforcing cybersecurity measures for organizations nationwide. We understand that cybersecurity threats can cost businesses thousands or even millions of dollars. We teach your employees proper network etiquette and give them the training they need to avoid hacker exploitation. Our cybersecurity awareness training helps them recognize and avoid phishing scams and other malicious strategies.
Ready to introduce and maintain cybersecurity best practices for remote workers? Reach out to our team today.