How to maintain security while employees work remotely is a problem that many businesses and organizations are attempting to solve. Cybersecurity is a growing threat to businesses in this era, and unfortunately, being out of the office prevents on-site IT staff from aiding employees and puts greater emphasis on cybersecurity of remote workers and how employees can do their part.
Although some may be more familiar with technology and how to approach cybersecurity than others, not everyone will be on the same page. This makes it important to cover all aspects of remote work cybersecurity. Here are some of the most effective ways to protect your business while remote.
Recognize a Threat
Cybersecurity threats come in various forms and some are harder to detect than others. For example, the ones that pop up on websites saying you’ve won an all-expenses paid cruise can often be written off as suspect, but others can be a little more difficult to detect. One of the most common ways for businesses to be infiltrated is through email.
According to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 94% of malware was delivered via email, which is something that all levels of employees will be vulnerable to. These emails may see a rise in effectiveness during this period in time, as employees are unable to easily consult coworkers as they would in an office environment.
When receiving an email from a suspicious or unknown person, make sure that you are very vigilant and careful in how you approach the situation. There are many ways to recognize a suspicious email. Look out for:
- Email addresses with unneeded letters or characters
- Poor grammar and spelling
- An increased sense of urgency
- Attachments that don’t make sense with the context of the email
Although some people may be aware of common phishing email tactics, it’s important to keep their knowledge fresh, especially in the unfamiliar environment of remote work and cybersecurity of remote workers.
If you are suspicious of an email at any time, make sure that you inform your IT department about your findings because chances are that others in your organization received a similar email. Many companies have begun implementing various Identity and Access Management systems in order to better safeguard themselves from these sort of threats. This includes things such as single sign-on, multifactor identification, zero-trust access, and more. It only takes one person to allow malicious threat access to the system, and that can affect everyone in the company.
Ensure Proper Passwords
Managing passwords at an organizational level is an extremely important factor in cybersecurity of remote workers, as one weak password could compromise the entire system. Many people still don’t fully grasp the importance of passwords. According to Google, “52% of people reuse the same password for multiple (but not all) accounts.” Reusing passwords is a very common-yet-critical mistake, as once your security is breached on one site, you are essentially giving them free access to others.
Many companies have begun using password management systems, such as LastPass or other alternatives, in order to meet all of their password needs. Password managers remove most of the difficulty out of the process at an organizational level, allowing for individual password “vaults,” the quick removal or addition of employees, and cloud syncing for quick access from any device. Passwords are very common, yet often overlooked or undervalued, which means they are a prime target for malicious threats and should be top priority for cybersecurity of remote workers.
Update Equipment Regularly
Many technologies advance and evolve at different rates, which means that some software may become incompatible with others, and many times that conflict can cause serious cybersecurity concerns. According to a study conducted by Tripwire, “27% of survey participants said their employer had suffered a data breach as the result of an unpatched vulnerability.” This number is even higher in Europe, rising to 34%.
Updating all types of equipment and software regularly is another critical aspect of cybersecurity of remote workers. Many updates or additions to software are added in order to “patch” or fix any holes detected in the system. Companies should encourage frequent monitoring for any potential updates, in addition to restarting computers regularly to ensure they are functioning at the highest level.
Although it can often be easy to skip updates when they pop up, as they typically require a restart of the computer, it’s important not to put them off too long, as they can create a compounding issue for business. Normalizing good cybersecurity practices can help instill good instincts, and save your businesses time and trouble down the road.
Emphasize the Importance of Remote Work Cybersecurity
Many employees might not understand the importance of following the cybersecurity of remote workers guidelines, which is why it’s crucial to make sure that they understand its importance. Shred-it, a document shredding service, reports that “96% of Americans view employee negligence as at least a minor contributor to data breaches at U.S. companies.” A business can provide all the information, but if employees don’t take it seriously and follow protocols, it will have little effect.
In addition to external cybersecurity classes, creating a small business cybersecurity checklist specific to your organization can be greatly beneficial. It keeps all the necessary information in a singular place and allows anyone to review it whenever they have questions or concerns. This can include all of the business’ specific protocols that they are putting in place, in addition to some of the more basic ones that should be followed regularly. This can include creating password standards, only using work-approved technology, not connecting to unsecured networks, and more. Creating a complete manual or guide can prevent information from being spread around, and make education much easier for future needs.
Offering a recurring cybersecurity training course can be greatly beneficial for both businesses and employees, as having a continuing education program helps emphasize the organization’s commitment to cybersecurity, in addition to allowing employees to learn more.
A report by the Information Systems Security Associations (ISSA) states that “36% of respondents reported that they thought that their organizations should provide a bit more cybersecurity training,” while almost a third of respondents said that they should receive significantly more training. Although cybersecurity of remote workers may be more important in some roles than others, having a basic understanding of these concepts is important for anyone, regardless of their position.
Remote work cybersecurity is an issue that should be of the utmost importance to all organizations, no matter what size. Some businesses believe that they are too small to warrant hacking, however, Fundera found that “43% of cyber attacks target small businesses.” This is up a staggering 424% compared to last year, and this increase may be tied to the fact that smaller businesses tend to have less cybersecurity, and thus are easier to target.
Helping employees recognize threats and stay vigilant while remote can vastly decrease the success of phishing attempts. Ensuring proper password management can make sure that everyone is held to an acceptable standard of security. Updating equipment often can remove the possibility of an oversight in software being taken advantage of. Making sure that all employees understand the importance of proper cybersecurity and it’s implementation can help them be more likely to cooperate and understand the actions being taken.
Cybersecurity of remote workers will only become more important as time goes on, and ensuring the safety and security of your business and employees is crucial to the development of your organization.
If you are looking for advice regarding remote work best practices, contact us! We’ve been helping companies hire the best IT talent worldwide and manage their remote teams efficiently.