How to strengthen your remote work security policy

How to strengthen your remote work security policy

As the COVID-19 health crisis continues to keep cities all over the world under lockdown and adhering to self-isolation policies, businesses have kept the lights on by having their employees work remotely. For many businesses, especially those that have long run many of their operations through computers, the new setup has been a success. Work from home arrangements enable productivity to be maintained while safeguarding the health of employees.

But while this new normal minimizes the exposure of employees to the coronavirus, it does increase IT networks’ cybersecurity risk. Not only do employees spend a far greater amount of time online where cybercriminals lurk, but the decentralized nature of remote work makes it much more difficult to manage company devices and datta.

To protect your business, Safebit Solutions has a few pointers for maintaining network security in the age of remote work.

Fortify networks

Perhaps the most obvious, but possibly most essential, factor to consider is ensuring that employees only connect to company networks under a stable and secure internet connection. It’s been reported that over 62% of Wi-Fi related security incidents occurred over public connections like those in coffee shops.

Employees must be educated, through memos as well as formal training, that company networks and work-related documents and files must only be accessed when on verified internet networks.

Scale up VPN capabilities

If some employees do not have access to secure internet connections, then a virtual private network (VPNs) is the solution. VPNs encrypt data being sent to and from a network, hiding web activities from potential hackers and enabling employees to access sensitive information from the company network.

Most businesses’ VPN architectures, however, weren’t designed to enable practically the entire company to connect simultaneously to and work almost exclusively through it. Instead, licenses can be purchased from providers such as OpenVPN on a per-connected device basis.

Protect against phishing

Of all the forms of cyberattack, phishing is the most prolific, accounting for over 90% of successful attacks. Phishing attacks involve fraudulent emails designed to deceive victims into voluntarily sharing sensitive files or information, such as passwords or proprietary data.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only given cybercriminals even more pretense to hide behind, with many of them now posing as charity groups or government agencies. If possible, email security algorithms should be equipped to detect fraudulent email addresses. Otherwise, employees must be trained in identifying attempts at phishing and in how to properly respond to and escalate them.

Avoid device sharing

Having individuals not affiliated with an organization, such as friends and family of employees, use laptops and other devices that contain or have access to sensitive information poses a risk. While these individuals may not have sinister agendas regarding the use of this information, good practice dictates that the information be dispensed on a need-to-know basis only.

However, the truth is that personal devices are usually shared between users, whether as a matter of course or in isolated instances. It’s thus best for organizations to provide their staff with devices, and ask employees to use these exclusively for work-related activities.

Device maintenance

In addition to ensuring that employees are provided with work-specific devices, these devices must be regularly maintained and kept up to date. This means regularly rolling out updates and patches that will ensure that the security measures on the devices are kept functioning and equipped to deal with the latest threats.

Endpoint management solutions like Microsoft Endpoint Manager allow your business to maintain and secure company devices from a central console. More specifically, you can use these solutions to roll out company-wide software updates and set access restrictions based on employee authorization levels and their location. Endpoint management software also reports on the security status of company-registered devices, so you can tell which have been compromised and need to be isolated from your company network.

Clear security protocol and guidance

All these practices will be for naught if not implemented within the context of a robust digital security framework. As the working landscape has changed, so too must business protocols and policies regarding IT usage and connectivity be updated to reflect all the guidelines discussed. Also, IT departments must be trained and equipped with the resources necessary to enforce and enable proper use.

Remote work has completely upended standard organizational process flows, and it’s a brave new world out there for many businesses. But with the right help, you can put the right foot forward and equip your teams for success. Reach out to Safebit Solutions now and bring your remote work frameworks to the cutting edge.

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