Work From Home Cybersecurity: 10 Steps to Avoid Risks
Maintaining cybersecurity while working from home is difficult but essential. Do you have a development team that works remotely? It can be scary to think about all the confidential data that is left vulnerable through distributed teams.
Fortunately, security best practices are not secrets. You just have to know where to find the information. And Trio has the information right here! Stay tuned to learn more about cybersecurity procedures for work from home teams.
What Are the Main Cyber Security Risks When Working From Home?
If your company is working with sensitive data, has a large user database, or is involved in financial operations, you should pay extra attention to ensure your security measures are properly in place.
Keeping information safe while everyone is working in the same office is easier than working with distributed remote employee networks. With work from home jobs, cybersecurity threats stem from unprotected home and public network access.
Endpoint security is another factor influencing data breaches. This includes updating operating systems and software, using anti-virus programs, and network firewalls.
According to the 2018 State of Endpoint Security Report, it takes 102 days on average to patch critical software and operating systems, leaving sensitive data vulnerable.
But more than anything, cyber threats take advantage of a lack of awareness. Numerous companies don’t educate their employees about cybersecurity in work from home environments. An uninformed approach or no approach at all is often the result.
10 Steps To Guarantee Work From Home Cyber Security
Forewarned is forearmed. Once you know that there are threats out there that can compromise cybersecurity when you work from home, you can make sure that risks are minimized.
You can’t totally eliminate the possibility of a cyberattack, but you can do your best to reduce the likelihood of it happening.
1. Raise Awareness
Start with the obvious: Educate both onsite and offsite employees about cybersecurity best practices and procedures.
This might entail regular security meetings where you inform your employees about new cybersecurity technologies and developments. Having this knowledge will significantly lower the impact of a cybersecurity attack.
2. Monitor Company-Issued Devices
While privacy and trust are important things to consider here, monitoring company-issued devices can help prevent cybersecurity issues at work from home stations. Remember these tips when working with digital internet-ready devices:
- Keep them up to date with anti-virus software
- Analyze the potential point of exposure to security threats
- Find out whether or not employees are honoring the security protocols imposed by the company.
3. Establish Company Security Protocols
Having a centralized strategy for dealing with security issues will ascertain that everyone is following protocol and not exposing sensitive information to cyber risks.
A policy of this sort may include:
- Case studies and examples
- Suggestions on how to respond if you suspect a cyber threat,
- The programs that the employees need to use to create strong passwords
- Whatever other tips you can offer
There should also be clear documentation for how to handle cybersecurity threats when they arise in work from home environments so workers can follow along whenever they are in need.
4. Use Cloud Applications
Opting to use cloud service providers is one way to maintain a high level of cybersecurity in remote work. Cloud services use data encryption technology to transfer confidential information.
Now that blockchain is also being used in cloud software, transactions will be even more secure and your budget will be happy as well.
5. Utilize VPNs
A virtual private network (VPN) is one of the best ways to sustain work from home cyber security.
No matter where they are located, a VPN helps to increase the security of a web session, transferred data, financial transactions, and personal information.
With a VPN, your employees can create a private connection to your business network from a public internet connection. This way, they’ll be enabled with online privacy and anonymity.
6. Be Prepared
Adversarial attacks come in the form of intentionally malicious security breaches.
Some examples include:
- Phishing: This occurs when attackers obtain login credentials through the guise of what seem like trustworthy entities. These entities are often fake websites.
- Social engineering: In the context of cybersecurity, social engineering is a psychological ploy that works by tricking people into releasing information to others with malicious intent.
- Malware: A play on ‘malicious software’, this is software specifically designed to compromise your computer, server, or network.
Proper password management is one way to extend cybersecurity in work from home environments. Often this requires the likes of a password-generating software so your employees can avoid creating passwords that are easy to guess. This software is called a password manager.
7. Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Login credentials are sometimes not good enough to prevent cyber attacks. Multi-factor authentication asks users to provide more than one form of authentication to prove who they are.
There are a few different ways to do this. Some apps use security questions in addition to login credentials. These tend to ask questions related to the user’s childhood or other personal details.
Other apps use text or email authentication. They send you a code to your phone or email address and you enter this code in addition to your login information.
Note that SMS codes are usually not the best factor for authentication.Even a stranger looking over your shoulder can put your information at risk.
Time-based one-time passwords (TOTP) can be useful for mitigating such risks. These passwords only work once and they are active for only a short period of time.
Another method is biological authentication. This is when the app uses physical data, such as fingerprint or facial recognition.
Using multi-factor authentication decreases the likelihood that an attacker can access your business network.
8. Limit Access
Trust is everything. But for that very same reason, you should limit how much access employees have to sensitive business information. By giving more people access, you open more avenues for security breaches.
Only give employees access to the apps and data they absolutely need. You can always give someone more privileges if and when the need arises. This is a much safer model than giving everyone open access.
9. Turn On Firewalls
Firewalls are a basic line of defense on a computer system. But something as simple as turning off firewalls while working can leave you and your employees vulnerable.
Make it a required policy that all developers have firewalls on at all times for their work devices. Really, this might be the simplest way to guarantee some level of work from home cybersecurity, even at the smallest degree.
10. Encrypt Everything
There are a couple of ways to go about encrypting your information. The first is through employee devices. By requesting that your employees encrypt their devices when an employee device is lost or stolen, no one will be able to access its data.
Secondly, you should encrypt the backups of any software and hardware you have that is connected to your business. Whether your business is managing an app, website, or hard drive, these things do fail or otherwise get infected by malware.
Your work from home cybersecurity plan should include a data backup plan. But even your backups are not always safe. Encrypt backups as well to avoid a data breach.
What To Do If a Breach Happens
When you’re working with distributed teams, having security measures can help you prevent a data breach. But sometimes a breach happens anyway, and when it does, you’ll need a response plan.
Here are a few of the scenarios where you should plan for breaches for work from home cybersecurity:
- A developer loses a device.
- An unauthorized party accesses your infrastructure.
- A team member is ‘let go’ under unfriendly circumstances.
These scenarios can result in negative consequences for your business and it’s your responsibility to respond to them appropriately.
Sometimes this means being ready to disable user accounts, take a server offline, or shut down production entirely.
In essence, you’ll want to do whatever necessary to contain the breach and make certain further information isn’t put in jeopardy.
These procedures should be documented in clear company policy.
Preventive and containment measures should give you a leg up on any security issues you face with your remote development team.
Some of these measures include:
- Raising awareness of security issues through documentation and meetings dedicated to the topic
- Using new and clever software like a VPN, cloud services, and/or multi-factor authentication to increase security
- Being prepared for common attacks, not only by preventing them but by having a plan in effect to respond to them
Hopefully, these guidelines will be advantageous in meeting that objective.
Trio is committed to helping you with your business needs.
While getting your software built is our main concern, we also care that your software is secure.
Contact us today to talk more about your project! We guarantee you that we can fulfill your needs — from work from home cybersecurity to completing your next software development project.
Frequently Asked Questions
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With work from home jobs, cyber security threats stem from unprotected home and public network access. But the biggest risk of all is lack of awareness.
What do I do if a breach happens?