How to Securely Manage a Remote Workforce
It wasn’t too long ago that having a remote workforce was the exception. Now, that exception is fast becoming the rule. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau noted that the number of people primarily working remotely from home has nearly tripled since 2019.
Unfortunately, hackers have taken notice of this growing trend. As more and more companies of all sizes have opened their environments to accommodate remote workers, they’ve often unintentionally opened the door to huge cybersecurity risks.
However, by following our remote work from home security tips you can help ensure your business is set up for success no matter what the future of work looks like.
Top 10 Cybersecurity Tips for Remote Employers
Few, if any, companies were ready for this massive shift to remote work, leaving many IT departments having to play a high stakes game of catch-up. And despite taking proper precautions, shoring up cyber defenses, and following best practices — the overarching truth remains — your people are your greatest cyber risk. Whether that’s through clicking a malicious link from a hacker, or simply not adhering to company security policies, every action by your employees is amplified in this new world of remote work.
But if you follow these 10 actionable cybersecurity tips from our expert USX Cyber analysts, you can help your company and the employees you manage stay protected.
- Work computers are for work only
- Enable user authentication
- Use a VPN
- Have strong password rules
- Keep personal devices off the company network
- Use centralized storage
- Safeguard videoconferences
- Stay on top of software updates
- Follow email best practices
- Establish a cybersecurity plan
1. Work computers are for work only
When remote workers bring a company device home, there may be the temptation to allow other household members (or kids!) to use a laptop, cellphone or other hardware for personal purposes. However, for fairly obvious reasons, this can spell disaster by exposing your network to threats and even unauthorized use of confidential or sensitive files. Yet, this is a fairly easy solution. By making sure your company policy addresses third-party use of company assets, you can avoid this issue.
2. Enable user authentication
Multifactor authentication is a critical tool in defending your network from major security risks. Ideally, remote employees should be required to verify their identity before accessing company data or network resources.
3. Use a VPN
Relying on the security of an individual employee’s network is a dicey proposition at best. VPNs allow secure remote access to company resources, provide encrypted connections and allow access control for your network. They are not a perfect solution. But when combined with these other remote work from home security tips, it can provide a strong layer of protection.
4. Have strong password rules
It’s 2022, and unbelievably “123456” is still the most commonly found password on the dark web, due to data breaches. There are a few simple guidelines you can have your employees follow to strengthen their passwords. This includes using random words and letters, mixing upper and lower case characters, and avoiding passwords that contain dates of birth or nicknames. But an even better plan is to invest in a password manager to keep track of all your employees’ passwords and have them safely stored in an encrypted digital vault.
5. Keep personal devices off the company network
It might not seem like a big risk to allow remote workers to use their personal devices to access your network. But even with antivirus software, password protection, and VPNs — allowing employees to use their own devices on your network is a major oversight. Many of these devices can have outdated software, no password protection or viruses of their own. The best policy here is to require your remote workforce to only use company-issued devices to conduct work-related tasks.
6. Use centralized storage
More and more companies have migrated their files and resources to the cloud, and for good reason. Centralized storage solutions protect files and data via an attached firewall. But when remote employees store files locally, on their devices, data can be lost if that device is compromised or destroyed. Having centralized storage is important, but educating your employees on how to use it is just as crucial.
7. Safeguard videoconferences
Kindly put, meetings can be an acquired taste. And while the new work from home reality has dictated we meet with each other via video conferencing software, it doesn’t come without cybersecurity risks. Since the start of the remote work shift, hackers have been infiltrating video conferences to monitor and gather sensitive company information. On top of that, these “Zoom Bombing” attacks can prove to be quite upsetting to your employees. This means that you need to set up private meetings that are password protected and control guest access through a virtual waiting room.
8. Stay on top of software updates.
You might be picking up on a theme — the simplest security measures are often the most important. Updating software and devices is a huge factor in ensuring your work from home security plan is successful. While most software today will automatically check for security updates and apply them, you still may need to have access to your employee’s remote devices to complete the update fully.
9. Follow email best practices
91% of all cyber attacks start with a phishing email. And while using your company’s inbox against you is one of the most tried and true tactics in a hacker’s toolbox, there are steps you can take to shore up your security. That starts with having robust antivirus software monitoring this attack vector. However, the most important thing you can do when managing your remote workforce is to educate your employees about the dangers and how to spot potential email threats. The old adage holds true, only open email attachments that you are expecting, no matter who sent them.
10. Establish a cybersecurity plan
The number one tip we at USX Cyber give to a potential client is always the same — educate your entire organization on cybersecurity. That starts with having solidified policies, plans, and procedures in place. We’ve seen it time and again be the action that separates successful companies from vulnerable companies. However, it’s critical to ensure these cybersecurity policies are easily understood by every employee. So when you’re building your plan, make sure you frame it with language that is clear and applicable to your remote employee’s workday.
Protect Your Business Today
At USX Cyber, we’ve built our GuardientTM cybersecurity platform to provide small businesses with powerful protection in this new remote working reality. Simply put, the days of treating cybersecurity as optional are over. And just like the internet and email are essential to running a business, the same now goes for having cybersecurity.
With GuardientTM you can have access to the same level of protection the big corporations are using to protect their businesses from remote working risks. But our scalable, flexible, and extensible services make sure you get state-of-the-art cybersecurity that fits both your budget and protection needs.
Talk with a USX Cyber analyst today and let’s navigate this new world together.