Thanks to mobile technology – like smartphones and cloud software – it’s easier than ever to let our teams work from home without feeling disconnected.
But working remotely doesn’t always mean working from home. Increasingly, our workforces can be expected to work from client locations, hotels, cafes, public transport – even from the beach, if they’re lucky.
But these multiple locations can make things complicated from a security standpoint. More networks being used means more chance of insecure data transfers, and working remotely means your teams don’t always have access to tech support who can keep them reminded of security protocols or jump in to help if they’re compromised. So how can you ensure your remote workers are keeping your data and devices safe while outside the office? Let’s look at some cybersecurity best practices that might help keep your staff secure.
Cloud based applications let users remotely access networks. This offloads some of the internet security responsibilities to cloud-service providers who are often more well-versed in the intricacies of cybersecurity than the average small business owner, so you have less to worry about.
Set your workers up on a cloud-based service like Office 365 or Google Drive so they can access files from any location with minimal security risks.
28 percent of employees are happy to email work-related documents to and from their personal
email accounts, despite the security risks involved.
Discourage your teams from using their work apps and devices – that is, any cloud-based platforms, software, work phones and work computers – for personal use. If your team only uses their their work assets for work-related use, the risk of security compromisations is reduced.
Setting up a system to give your remote workers secure access to your corporate network is a good idea.
Look at technologies like virtual private network (VPN) software, which can encrypt your remote workers’ internet traffic, and other tools that ensure remote computers have security patches installed, are correctly configured and are monitored for signs of malicious software.
Not all workers work from home where their internet is most likely reliable and secure. Sometimes they work from cafes or other public places with free wifi that may not be secure. To negate this, make sure your staff are well-educated on general cybersecurity – like practicing good password hygiene and not keeping sensitive data stored on their laptops.
Software updates can be annoying, but they perform a multitude of useful tasks, some of which are important for cybersecurity. Updates usually apply to your device’s operating system and software programs and deliver a myriad of revisions to such as adding new features, removing outdated features, fixing bugs, and repairing security vulnerabilities.
A vulnerability usually means a security hole or weakness has been found in the operating system or a piece of software. These weaknesses can be exploited by hackers who can infect your computer through actions as simple as visiting a website, opening a compromised message, or downloading an infected file.
So while updates might seem like a hassle, they can save you a lot of trouble in the long term. Teach your employees to think of performing regular updates as a preventative measure for your internet safety, and make sure they are reminded to keep on top of their updates even while they work remotely.
Disaster Response Plan
Accidents happen. No one is completely immune to cyber security threats, and it’s important to accept this and have a plan to execute in case your systems or data are compromised.
Define a process for what happens when data is breached or systems compromised to ensure that your business mitigates its interruptions and recovers quickly from a cyber attack, and make sure your employees know what is needed from them in the case of such an event.
We recommend you encourage your employees to backup their data at least weekly, preferably to an external hard drive.
One of the most basic elements of device security hygiene is making sure your staff have secure passwords that are different for every account they have to log into, and that they change regularly. You would be surprised how many of your employees have weak passwords that are easy to crack.
Teach them what makes a secure password (i.e. long with a variety of characters) and send them reminders to change them every 2 months or so. Better yet, adopt a password management app that generates strong passwords,remembers them for your employees and automatically prompts them to create new passwords after a specified period of time.
Remote working doesn’t have to be a cybersecurity headache, you just need to make sure your workforce knows basic cybersecurity practices. Education and preparation are key to mitigating and responding to cyberthreats; if your workforce knows how to stay secure and you have a response plan in place, then you shouldn’t have to worry.