Remote workers make things simpler, more efficient, and often cheaper for startup organizations. It’s also a perk for employees who like eliminating their commute and working from the quiet of their own homes. For these exact reasons, remote work has grown exponentially over the last few years. According to a Gallup survey, 43 percent of employed Americans spend at least some of their time working remotely.
Remote work has its clear advantages, but cybersecurity threats will accompany them. Remote workers often allow easier access for hackers, malware, and other attempts to corrupt or steal sensitive information from a company. Their unsecured networks, weak passwords, high employee turnover, and limited monitoring ability make them ideal targets.
The benefits of remote work are many, and as such, it’s better to handle the threats that come with it rather than trying to eliminate it. Your security threats don’t have to increase dramatically just because you use remote workers.
Here are some things you can do.
Manage the BYOD Movement
The bring your own device (BYOD) movement is a popular strategy for employers. It saves money, is more efficient, and eliminates the need for an IT department. However, it can also increase your risk of being infiltrated by a hacker who gains access through an unsecured personal device.
“Frequent trainings to ensure compliance with security measures are critical to decreasing risk,” suggests an article from the secure SD-WAN firm Cato Networks. “Teams should have well-researched BYOD policies in places to protect against as many potential threats as possible. You also may want to consider mobile device management (MDM) which requires employees to grant IT access to their personal devices, including permission to wipe a lost or stolen device clean.”
Mandate strong password regulations
Passwords are often an easy entry point for hackers. Weak passwords are easy for experienced hackers to crack. Plus, many people use the same password for everything, so once that password is hacked, they’ll have access to every account that’s connected to it.
Many employees have varied, strong passwords, but they store them on a piece of paper or in a document on their computer. Hackers know to look for those saved documents to gain access to a network.
Create a series of password standards for your employees. Passwords should have special characters, numbers, and capitals, and they should be changed often. Each password should be reserved for just one account, and should not be shared. To keep passwords secure, have employees use a cloud-based password manager like LastPass, Dashlane, or Sticky Password.
Secure your network with a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is like a secure tunnel that allows your computer to connect to the internet. Enterprises often use a VPN to protect their privacy and prevent casual hackers from accessing transactions while using Wi-Fi, whether public or private.
“When you’re on public Wi-Fi at an airport or café, that means hackers will have a harder time stealing your login credentials or redirecting your PC to a phony banking site,” says Ian Paul of Tech Hive. “Your Internet service provider (ISP), or anyone else trying to spy on you, will also have a near impossible time figuring out which websites you’re visiting. On top of all that, you get the benefits of spoofing your location.”
Each of these masking elements allows your remote workers to stay secure while working on your network, limiting exposure to unwanted third-party attention.
Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication can be used in multiple ways to protect both your employees and your organization from unauthorized access. When employees must go through two steps to access your server or website, such as entering both a password and a code sent to their personal email, access is considerably more secure.
Additionally, if you provide your remote workers with their hardware, consider requiring two-factor authentication when they access their devices. For example, many laptops now come with an eye or fingerprint scanner. Requiring employees to put in both a password and a bio-print scan can add an extra layer of security that protects both your organization and your employees from major cybersecurity threats.
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