The New Normal: The Importance of Cybersecurity in the Work from Home Era
Remote work environments were here long before the outbreak of COVID-19. The pandemic has simply shown us that working from home will become the new normal for companies across the globe. It has also reminded employers that they need to take extra measures to secure the technology their employees are using.
Fortunately, you do not have to navigate the terrain of remote cybersecurity alone. Here’s how you can enhance your security policies for a remote workforce.
How Cybersecurity Protects Your Company
At the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, working from home was a necessary measure to stop the spread of the virus. Now, companies and their employees have embraced remote work as a more permanent solution. In fact, Americans are increasingly falling in love with the idea of being able to work anywhere, not just in the office or their home. Despite where they put up shop, remote employees introduce a range of cybersecurity risks to their companies.
When employers decided to allow their employees to shift to remote working, cyber threats and data breaches increased. This was largely due to cybercriminals taking advantage of the stress and uncertainty of the situation. They could also access sensitive information through the unsecured personal devices employees began using at home.
With cybersecurity threats at an all-time high, companies had to reevaluate their security measures to accommodate a remote workforce. They began to see why it’s important to educate employees on cyber security practices, such as being aware of who’s working behind them, if they leave their devices unattended, or if they are using an unprotected network.
By adopting cybersecurity measures that support remote and hybrid work environments, organizations stand a better chance of avoiding security threats and breaches. They can adapt to the changing world, providing the flexibility their employees demand while keeping their business operations private.
Cybersecurity Tips for Remote Workers
As you and your IT department know, unsecure technology leaves company data at risk of attacks by malicious hackers. Unfortunately, your employees who work from home may not be as aware of the basic security measures they should be taking and the consequences that could follow from being negligent.
As you adopt a more permanent remote or hybrid approach to work, you need to take steps to reduce your company’s vulnerabilities. Follow these tips to strengthen your cybersecurity for teams that work remotely:
Update or Create Remote Work Policies
Does your organization have security policies in place for remote employees? If not, you will want to revise the policy to include guidelines on how employees can remotely access company information systems appropriately. You should also mention whether or not personal devices can be used for business purposes. Make sure to establish protocols for responding to data breaches, security incidents, and criminal investigations as well.
Require Remote Employees to Use Personal or Corporate Networks
As employees become more comfortable working outside of the office, they attempt to work in cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, hotel lobbies, and anywhere else they have access to public WiFi. However, this can be dangerous for businesses’ sensitive information as the public WiFi is unsecured.
You should require your work-from-home employees to use a personal WiFi network with a strong password. Alternatively, you can have them use a company VPN to maintain end-to-end data encryption. Before choosing this option, you will want to consider whether each employee needs access to the internal network or just cloud-based services. In either case, you should have employees use multi-factor authentication to restrict access to authorized users only.
Keep Devices Up to Date
You will want to ensure your remote employees have automatic security updates enabled on their devices. They should also use strong, secure passwords on their devices, including network devices. Continuously test and monitor antivirus and firewall software to ensure it operates as it should.
Prepare Employees for Phishing Attacks
Educate your remote workers on phishing attacks and warn them against opening emails from unknown sources and downloading the emails’ files or clicking on the links. You can also simulate phishing schemes to keep employees alert.
Monitor Your Remote Employees’ Activity
Most data breaches and instances of cyber-criminal cases are the results of insider actions rather than outside hackers. Use shadow IT to keep an eye out for data abuse, misuse of company devices, and use of non-approved apps.
Embrace a Changing Landscape
Working from home is a phenomenon that is only growing. You can prepare for this new work environment by implementing cybersecurity measures on all endpoints. However, it’s important to note that these measures can only do so much. Your company is likely to experience a breach at some point. You will need to be prepared to respond, no matter the circumstances.
If your company becomes entangled in a cyber-criminal case, you can turn to Cornerstone Discovery for assistance with digital forensics investigations. Our digital forensics experts have years of experience gathering relevant data from laptops, computers, mobile devices, and more for use in investigations. We can also provide trial support services to give your company a stronger chance of winning the case. Contact us today to learn more about our services!