Best Practices for Remote Workforce Security
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
In today's world, more companies and employees are searching for the best tips for working remotely. The age of COVID-19 has posed many challenges to the American workforce, most commonly in regard to shared spaces, human contact, and how to maintain productivity in an increasingly digital space. At the start of the pandemic, many organizations switched from a traditional model of in-office working to a non-commuter approach of a remote work environment.
As the year 2021 is upon us, some businesses have brought employees back to the workplace, while others are extending their work from home policies indefinitely; sometimes forever. Big names such as Facebook, Microsoft, Open Table, and more are choosing to forgo the traditional office space and allow their staff members to continue working from the privacy, and safety, of home. With more and more remote employees, cyber security can be a major issue.
However, the new work from home model has challenges of its own, and countless companies are searching for secure remote access solutions in Florida. Many companies made the switch overnight, with very little time to plan for what was to come (if they had any time at all). Employees that were used to working in the office for years suddenly found themselves in their living rooms, spare bedrooms, and even at the kitchen table with a laptop looking up tips for working remotely. Similarly, corporations both large and small went searching for solutions to new roadblocks and obstacles in the hopes of making the new work from home lifestyle more efficient, productive, and secure for everyone; remote employees and customers alike.
Common Remote Workforce Security Challenges
One of the largest, and most important, challenges that companies are currently facing with the remote workforce is barriers posed by security issues. When employees were all in one place, the office, it was easy to monitor devices, web browsing, and employee behavior because they are all on the same corporate network. However, with remote employees now working from the privacy at home, often no longer using corporate devices exclusively, companies are finding themselves exposed to various security threats.
The good news is, with the proper managed IT services, your company can identify and address these security threats, avoiding costly data breaches, a damaged reputation, and the lost productivity that often occurs as a result of such crimes. Below are the most common security challenges employers face with remote employees.
Lack of Employee Awareness and Education
One of the largest contributing factors to improper work-from-home security is that employees simply lack adequate awareness and education in regard to cyber threats. When working from home, employees may engage in practices that are less-than-ideal, such as saving sensitive data on personal devices, not encrypting private information, and web browsing on unsecured networks.
Many employees are not aware of the security measures that take place behind-the-scenes when they are in the office. For example, anti-virus software that blocks pop-ups, apps that encrypt sensitive data and information, and more.
Additionally, employees are more likely to get sidetracked or distracted when they are working from home, browsing websites that they may not visit when they are in the office.
These websites may not be secured and may lead to a security breach on the very same computer that stores all of your company's sensitive information.
Greater Susceptibility to Phishing Scams and Malware
Online scammers and data hackers are well aware of the fact that many employees are currently working from home, and they are taking advantage of the situation and using the opportunity to commit more cyber crime. When your employees are in the office, they are more likely to ask a co-worker or boss about a suspicious e-mail or phone call that they receive. While working at home, they may be more likely to click suspicious links, provide sensitive information via e-mail or phone, and more.
Additionally, online scammers and data hackers are using the COVID-19 emergency itself to their advantage, sending messages with great urgency that encourage users to submit information for the purposes of contact tracing and more.
Employees are also less likely to report that they have fallen victim to a phishing scam or hacker when they are working from home. They may forget about a suspicious link they click or phone call they receive, leaving your company to discover the data breach only when it is too late and the damage is done.
Failure to Change Passwords Regularly
Many companies have automatic security features set-up in the office on their corporate network, such as password expirations and prompts for employees to update their information. While working from home, however, on their own devices, many employees forgo this extra layer of security.
What this means is that workers are often using the same password on multiple applications and programs for an extended period of time. This leaves your business open to cyber risks and the possibility of hacking.
The Sharing of Data and Information
With more employees working from home, it increases the chance that more than one person will be using the device that your company's information is on. Add that to the fact that more and more children are currently learning remotely, and the chances increase even further.
As employees work from home, many are using their own laptops and are sharing these devices with other members of their household. The same computer that your employee uses to enter sensitive customer information may also be used for their spouse to browse social media, complete online shopping, or for their children to access school assignments.
This increases the risk of unauthorized individuals having access to your organization's private data, as well as the risk of accidentally deleting important information. The reality is that the more individuals access a device, the greater the chance that a user error occurs.
Not only are more people using the same devices, but with so many members of the same household at home, employees are also more likely to share sensitive data. They may provide their significant other or child with their laptop password to log on for personal use, which may be the same password they use to access sensitive data and information.
Tools That Increase Security for Remote Workers
Even with many obstacles facing companies who are currently managing a remote, or mostly remote, workforce, there are tools that you can use to increase security for these workers and many tips for remote working that can make your processes more secure.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
The first tool that you can use to improve the security of remote workers is to implement two-factor authentication (2FA) for platforms and applications that employees must access from home. 2FA can help avoid phishing scams and prevent hackers from accessing private information even if they do somehow obtain initial entry to your systems. With 2FA, users must provide two forms of identification in order to access specified platforms and apps.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
Another one of the best tips for working remotely is to implement the use of a virtual private network (VPN) for employees. The majority of workers do not use a secured network when working from the comfort of home, yet doing so is essential to protect important information.
A VPN offers protection when using a public internet network, allowing employees to send and receive data and information as if they are on a private network. This is an excellent way to ensure that no third-parties gain access to sensitive information when they do not have authorization.
Provide Employees with Information and Education
Providing your employees with tips for working remotely, security, privacy, and information is an excellent way to help protect your company's data. Make sure that everyone is aware of best practices, including regularly updating passwords, using unique passwords that are hard to guess, and the importance of not letting others access their electronic devices.
You can hold regular training seminars on security best practices and send out reminders to update passwords and change login information.
How to Efficiently Secure Your Remote Workforce
If you are looking for security tips for working remotely, look no further than the managed IT services at Flagler Technologies. We are here to help your organization implement best practices, establish company-wide policies, and help monitor your applications and networks to ensure that they remain entirely protected.
Flagler Technologies is a premier IT solutions company in Florida that helps organizations of all sizes, in all industries, to develop security plans. We can help you secure a virtual private network (VPN) for your employees to use at home, can assist in the purchasing and set-up of collaboration platforms such as video and voice conferencing software and programming, ensure that each of your employees has the most up-to-date anti-virus software installed on their device, and so much more.
Remote workforces are continuing to rise in popularity and many believe that they may be here to stay–at least for a while. If you have a workforce that is currently working remotely from anywhere in the country, it is essential that you ensure their data and information remain entirely protected. There are cybercriminals, phishing scams, and data hackers that are waiting to take advantage of employees who are not in the office and will attempt to hack into your systems, gain access to your information, and use it for their own benefit. Do not allow this to happen.
Data breaches and security threats can be extremely costly. If your data falls into the wrong hands it may end up costing your company millions. Additionally, you may be subject to regulatory fines and fees and you may suffer irreparable damage to your reputation among both customers and shareholders.
Contact Flagler Technologies today to begin implementing security solutions. Call 561-229-1601.