Is Letting My Employees Work Remotely Secure?
Short Answer: Yes.
Long Answer: Yeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssss.
Long Answer that includes an explanation:
As the world changes and gets more technologically advanced, companies and bosses need to change with it. A big part of that change is moving from just hiring in-house employees to using remote workers. Remote workers benefit employers in many ways. A remote team will save companies money, save bosses time, and allow you to work with a wide pool of diverse talent all across the world! No downside, right?
“Hold on now,” you may be thinking. Having people work remotely sounds like a huge security risk, won’t company information be safer when everyone is in the office?
Not really, no. Your company’s information is like a valuable ruby necklace in a wealthy woman’s house: whether it’s in a safe behind a painting at home or stored in a bank somewhere, the precautions matter more than the location. Here are a few precautions you can use to keep your company’s figurative ruby necklace free from hackers and thieves.
Establish a secure connection to your company’s network
One of the biggest security concerns employers face when setting up remote workers is how they can access company information without causing a security risk. Luckily, there are a ton of resources available for that! One of the most common ways companies handle this is to use what’s called a VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network.
VPNs sound complicated, but how they work is simple. Your user connects to a public source of internet and then accesses the VPN, which encrypts your user before allowing access to your company data. This is mainly like Superman putting on a pair of glasses to sneak past Lex Luthor. Shockingly easy and effective. This encryption is crucial because even if someone does manage to access something your user was doing, they won’t be able to read or understand any of it.
Use cloud-based applications
‘In the cloud’ is one of the most popular tech terms out there. When you store something in a cloud, you’re storing it in someone else’s powerful, state of the art servers instead of your own. This way your remote employees can access the cloud from their VPN and there is almost no risk to your sensitive data.
Cloud-based applications are built with remote workers in mind and go to great pains to keep secure. Some of these include two-factor authentication which makes employees enter a code sent to their mobile phone. Cloud-based applications aren’t just useful for ensuring remote security; they’re a time saver. You can manage projects with Teamwork, share files with Dropbox, and maintain communication via a company Slack channel. The possibilities are endless, and most of these can integrate with apps or programs you already use!
Install anti-virus with automatic updates
You already know that your employees’ work computers need a high-quality antivirus application. That little gem isn’t winning any awards for groundbreaking new ideas. What you might not have considered, however, is that you should install antivirus software that includes automatic updates on all remote workers’ laptops.
It’s a well-loved joke among techies that we will put off updating our computers as long as possible because it’s annoying and takes ten minutes to reboot. Your remote (and in-house) workers are no different. They’ll see a little message pop up that says something like ‘Norton Anti-Virus Would Like to Update. Restart Now?’ Your employees will go ‘no thanks,’ pushing the ‘wait 10 minutes’ button for all eternity. Take this ability to procrastinate out of their hands by having software that updates without needing the users' approval.
Teach employees to recognize phishing and scams
Did you know that most company data leaks come from employee error as opposed to hackers? It’s much easier for someone who wants your company’s information to just call up the receptionist and claim to be an account manager who needs passwords than it is to write a whole program that steals your information. All of your employees, onsite and offsite should have a good education in managing their security.
Your employees should all be told not to just give information like passwords, credit cards, and account information to anyone who asks. It’s not uncommon for scammers to get on the phone and pretend to be an IRS official or a cop to gain access to sensitive information. Make a policy that only a few people can give that info out without prior, express written permission.
These scams can also come through email. There is the classic Nigerian prince scam and many common phishing scams. Remind your employees not to enter passwords or any other data prompted from users that you have not had contact with.
Finally, your employees absolutely must practice good password rules. Your employees shouldn’t use the same password for every account, and that password shouldn’t be anything ordinary or that can be found out via Google. Examples of bad passwords include the employee’s birthday, the employee’s hometown, the employee’s favorite show, password, abc123, and the list goes on. Random numbers and letters are good, or a unique phrase that the employee will remember like Iloveto3atp1zz4!. Mixes of capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation make for robust passwords.
There are some minor risks to hiring and managing remote workers, just like there are risks to doing business online in your office. When allowing workers to go remote saves employers time and money, builds company loyalty, and increases productivity it just makes sense to follow these security measures and sleep well knowing your company is all set to compete in today’s modern business world.
What did you think of this article? Do you have any remote workers? Are there any other security tips you’d like to share? Leave us a comment below, and don’t forget to share this on social media!
Remote jobs are the future of business. By hiring talent that works from home, you are giving your organization access to not only the top hires from around the world but also to workers who do their very best from the comfort of their own homes. If you’d like a hand at recruiting your remote employees (as that’s kind of our thing), get in touch today.