*This is a guest post, the thoughts and opinions are those of its authors and do not reflect on Techaeris or its staff.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, more companies are transitioning to remote working than ever before. Even prior to the pandemic, remote working was already on the rise. Studies have shown that remote work is more likely to improve productivity among staff, lower overhead costs, and even improve company culture. Other benefits of remote work include the increase in the number of talented hires available when not restricted to a local area. The truth is that a star employee working in the office might not be as motivated at home. When you give your team autonomy, they are more likely to believe they are trusted and valued in the organization. However, with such a high level of autonomy comes a great deal of responsibility.
Management of employees is also going to differ drastically when compared to being able to meet together in person. Motivation and tracking of performance become of paramount importance as it might be easy to account for a drop in productivity due to an adjustment period. As you build out your remote work programs, it’s important to keep security in mind. Important client or staff information falling into the wrong hands can take months or years to recover. There are certain companies that never recover after the leaking of information on important clients. Clients are going to be hesitant to work with a company that has had major data hacks in the past. Clients work with companies to solve their problems rather than create them. With that in mind, here are a few security tips for remote working.
1) Work With an IT Support Team
Your IT team is integral to your operations. In a yesteryear traditional work environment, the IT infrastructure is much more uniform. However, with the proliferation of remote working, the rules have been changed. The following tasks won’t be of much help if you don’t know how to implement them. For instance, corporate platforms for communication, project management, and other tools are set up by your IT, who is responsible for their implementation. According to Eleet 17, an IT support agency, you might consider working with a third party company if you don’t have a dedicated IT team. This way, you benefit from a guided security experience.
2) Use an Antivirus Solution
As a company, you should be utilizing powerful security solutions within your organization. This should be standard operation. With employees working from home, it becomes tricky to offer the same level of protection as you would at home. Security solutions should be implemented with any device that handles corporate data. If you’re a startup or small business on a very tight budget, you may be able to use free antivirus software or take advantage of free trials for premium versions.
3) Use a VPN
A VPN is a virtual private network. It allows users to encrypt their connections and safely browse the web. When members of your team use networks that don’t belong to them, they should always use a VPN. There is a myriad of benefits for a VPN as well. In addition to its enhanced security, companies can benefit greatly from a higher degree of remote control. This allows information to be accessed from anywhere, creating an additional layer of transparency as well. Maintenance costs for a VPN are typically very low, and once a solution is implemented, it may even improve performance with strong bandwidth and efficiency.
4) Update Systems & Programs
Software that becomes outdated is more likely to be exposed to newer vulnerabilities. There are thousands of new malware patches being launched every day, and new patches are more likely to penetrate weak spots in your existing system. For this reason, it’s important for you to always update your systems and operations, and require your staff to do the same. Updating might take a certain amount of time monthly which can allow management to update productivity goals. If an update takes 30 minutes monthly lowering production requirements slightly can encourage these updates to be installed.
5) Encrypt Your Wi-Fi
If your wi-fi isn’t encrypted, any data that’s sent over your wifi—including passwords—can be intercepted by hackers. To thwart potential malicious efforts, be sure to configure your network connection accurately. Any password-protected wifi is encrypted, but you should set some protocols for the type of wifi your remote staff can connect to. For example, if they want to take their laptop to a local coffee shop, they should refrain from connecting to an open, public network. On the same token, ensure everyone’s home networks have strong passwords that are less likely to be compromised. People that can enable hotspots on their phones should do so if trying to work in public and encrypt it with a password. Local wifi is a playground for hackers to gain access to specific devices.
6) Take Advantage of Corporate Services
Corporate services come equipped with their own level of security, which eliminates much of the guesswork for you. Always use corporate email and communication systems, like Microsoft Office or Slack. These tools are already configured for business, and paid versions are generally more reliable than their free counterparts. With that in mind, cloud applications offer updated security features that comply with regulations in your industry.
7) Only Use Company Devices for Professional Reasons
Remote working can be full of distractions with some people using company devices for personal reasons or using personal devices for professional reasons. The last thing that you want is to be hacked due to logging onto the wrong website which then compromises company information. Policies that prohibit certain websites or types of websites to be accessed can be programmed onto the devices. Blocking websites is far easier than trusting that an employee will take all of the safety precautions necessary when surfing the web for personal reasons.
8) Use Caution When Utilizing 3rd Party Apps
The last thing that any company wants is a 3rd party app installed by a member of the staff to compromise company information. The unfortunate truth is that by installing an app outside of the reputable app stores is a giant risk. There is even a risk when downloading an app from a trusted source as the app’s creators might not have put a major focus on security. There are solutions that can help assess the security risks among apps downloaded on a device. Remote working can be done in a way that keeps company information and accounts secure. Instituting policies are essential for a business as many members of the staff might not understand best practices in terms of cybersecurity. The right combination of preventative policies can ensure the safety of a company and its remote workers.