Cybersecurity in Remote Work: 10 Ways To Protect Remote Employees
Do you have a development team that works remotely? It can be scary to think about all the confidential data that gets passed between various locations with distributed teams.
Or maybe you are a developer who works remotely and wants to be proactive in protecting the company’s assets, or you've been tasked with building a security plan for other remote workers on the team.
The good news is that security best practices are not secrets.
You just have to know where to find the information. And here is what you need to know about cybersecurity in remote work.
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What Causes Cyber Risks?
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, where you face threats 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.
And numerous companies don’t educate their employees about cybersecurity in remote work environments, leading to an uninformed approach – or no approach at all – when it comes to cybersecurity.
10 Ways To Increase the Cybersecurity in Remote Work Enviroment
Forewarned is forearmed.
Once you know that there are threats out there and what can compromise the cybersecurity, you can make sure that risks are minimized and possible problems are prevented.
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:
- Educating both onsite and offsite employees about cybersecurity best practices and procedures.
Make regular security meetings where you inform your employees about:
- Cybersecurity developments
- New technologies, and
- Possible scams can 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 you cybersecurity in remote work with:
- Keeping them up to date with anti-virus software
- Analyzing the potential point of exposure to security threats, and
- Finding 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 can help to make sure that everyone is following protocol and not exposing sensitive information to cyber risks.
A unified policy that all employees agree to follow upon onboarding to the company will ensure that your business is protected from data breaches.
This policy can 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, and
- Whatever other tips you can offer.
There should also be clear documentation for cybersecurity in remote work environments, allowing the workers to follow 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.
5. Utilize VPNs
A virtual private network (VPN) is one of the best ways to secure the work of remote employees.
No matter where they are located, a VPN helps to increase the security of their 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: When attackers obtain login credentials through the guise of what seem like trustworthy entities. These entities, often fake websites, are of course not what they seem.
- Social engineering: A psychological element by tricking people into releasing information to others with malicious intent.
- Malware: A software that is specifically designed to compromise your computer, server, or network.
- And proper password management: The easiest and most effective way to prevent adversarial attacks. Your team should be adept at generating passwords that are memorable yet complex.
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.
Make attacks more difficult to complete with multi-factor authentication.
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 some personal detail.
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 is enough to put your information at risk.
Time-based one-time passwords (TOTP) can be useful for mitigating such risks. These passwords can only work one 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 turned on for all their work devices.
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 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 cybersecurity in remote work environment plan should absolutely 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 you should plan for breaches in cybersecurity in remote work:
- A developer loses a device.
- An unauthorized party accesses your infrastructure.
- A team member is ‘let go’ under unfriendly conditions.
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 including:
- 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; and
- 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 to assure the needs and requirements, including the cybersecurity.
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Numerous companies don’t educate their employees about cybersecurity in remote work environments, leading to an uninformed approach – or no approach at all – when it comes to cybersecurity.