Remote work has revolutionized the workplace for many companies, with 27% of full-time employees now working remotely. But despite the lure of remote working, there are significant cybersecurity risks due to unsafe cyber practices.
If your business is new to a remote work policy or you’re looking for advice on how to keep your remote workers and their devices digitally safe, here are our top five tips.
1. Provide regular cybersecurity awareness training
Cyberattacks have risen 238% since the beginning of the pandemic, and that number is likely to increase without proper training.
Educating your employees about phishing scams, ransomware attacks, and other emerging threats is key to helping employees protect their devices (physically and digitally), identify security threats that may still get through, and know how to react in the event an attack happens. Empowering employees to take cyber safety into their own hands is one of your strongest prevention methods to minimize security risks.
2. Equip your employees with remote work cyber security tools
While education is a great way to protect data from hackers, incorporating technology should also be part of your safety best practices. This includes software tools that prevent security flaws like two-factor authentication, VPN (virtual private networks), and a tool to manage passwords.
Because you cannot always ensure safe network access, these tools will help your remote workers stay secure on both home wi fi and external unsecured networks.
Two-factor authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication is an internal security method to prove who you are when logging into a system, oftentimes by accessing a code through a secondary app. It provides an extra layer of security to help prevent a data breach and is highly advisable anytime you are accessing sensitive information.
Virtual private networks
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) allow employees to stay secure when they connect to the internet. They also shield your systems and sensitive data from outside access, which helps to stop hackers.
Oftentimes, people use the same or a similar word rather than a unique password for a vast amount of sites because of the complexity to remember too many things. A password manager allows you to save a broad range of unique passwords in a secure environment to minimize security threats.
3. Promote regular security updates
Security updates are pivotal for the avoidance of cyber criminals, whether using personal or work-provided tools. These regular updates are necessary for both software and hardware.
You can easily set automated updates on employees’ devices or send them regular emails to remind them to update their internet security software, antivirus software, and devices. For encouragement to make the update, consider sending out an explanation of why it’s important and provide a video with easy access showing exactly how to do it.
4. Invest in work-only devices for employees
If the thought of ensuring your remote employees’ personal devices are secure is daunting, you may want to invest in work-only devices for your remote work employees. This will enable you to download and customize security settings and software yourself to prevent data breaches and other harm caused by cyber criminals more easily.
5. Communicate about work only through internal communications
Communication is crucial with remote workers to keep processes running smoothly, especially when working from home. However, your company must train users to only use work-related tools and accounts for messaging, emailing, video calls, or any other form of communication, even when on their home wi fi network.
While this may sound overprotective, a private messenger service or communication app could lead to security risks. Even personal messages could turn to work-related issues that you may need to have a digital paper trail for documentation, or a casual conversation may include information about managers or coworkers that you do not want accessible to cyber criminals.
In addition to written messages, work-related phone calls and video chats should be conducted through work-provided tools to create a secure environment. If you are unaware of which tools you should use for remote work communication, talk with your I.T. or Human Resources Department.
Small Businesses’ Need for Remote Work Cybersecurity
In today’s work environment, cyber criminals are a significant risk for small companies. In fact, inc.com highlighted a study by CyberCatch that revealed more than 30% of U.S. small businesses have exploitable weak points, making them prime targets for cyber criminals.
Couple this with the expectation that remote work employees will undoubtedly grow, and you’ll understand why it’s more important than ever for your company to proactively adopt digital safety best practices.
Resources To Help Your Business Be Cyber Safe
Proactively keeping your company safe requires time, effort, and money. If the thought of spending loads of cash to minimize security threats is a roadblock, there are several free cybersecurity and training resources you can use to implement these and other remote work safety tips.
If you don’t have military-grade encryption to protect your employees’ sensitive information, as well as protocols in place to prevent that sensitive data from being shared or hacked, consider outsourcing to a PEO to provide this as part of their service offerings. While this is not a focal point of HR outsourcing, most PEOs provide secure Human Resources Information or Management System software to help you manage your employee data.
Book a free consultation today to learn how Stratus HR keeps our client's sensitive information secure while we provide top-rated human resources consulting, payroll processing, benefits administration, HRMS software, and risk management services.