The pandemic has forced many businesses remote in order to remain productive. As hectic and challenging as this has been, many companies have found the good in this situation, as remote work lowers overhead costs and offers employees a better work/life balance. Many companies are now considering keeping at least part of their workforce remote in the future.
However, the rise in remote work has also led to an increase in cyber attacks. Cyber crime is rising due to both the panic caused by COVID-19 and the susceptibility of many businesses transitioning to remote work. Now more than ever, businesses need to protect their digital systems, assets, and communications.
Here are five essential remote cybersecurity practices businesses should follow to keep cybersecurity up and risk of attacks and data breaches down when employing a remote workforce.
Get the Right Tools and Processes in Place.
When employees move from the office to their homes, they leave the office network that likely is what most of your current security measures are set up around. As soon as you decide to switch to a remote work arrangement, you should equip your employees with the security tools and processes they’ll need to work from home as securely as from the office.
Some of these tools might include the following:
- Enterprise-grade routers and firewalls
- Remote desktop services
- VPNs or other end-to-end encryption tools
- Cloud applications for securely sharing data
You should also be aware of what devices your staff are using. You should either equip every employee with computers that will only be used for work, or, if you’re using a BYOD policy, ensure that each device is updated and equipped with necessary security features before an employee begins using it to access business resources.
You need a reliable IT partner to get effective remote solutions in place. And thanks to remote technology, you can work with a local IT company in Dallas or an IT provider across the country to get set up.
Be Aware of Phishing Attacks.
Phishing attacks are some of the most common attacks hackers use to access your confidential information. While many other attacks can be blocked by anti malware and other security measures, phishing relies on human error to make your systems vulnerable. And these attacks can target any member of your organization.
Because of this, every employee should be trained on how to recognize phishing attacks.
Here are a couple of common features to look out for:
- Email address or domain name with misspellings
- Grammar and spelling mistakes or unusual syntax
- Suspicious links (You can hover your cursor over a link to see the URL without clicking on it. If it leads somewhere you don’t recognize or somewhere different than it claims to, don’t click it!)
- Threats of legal action or account suspension
- Payment requests (These can be difficult to identify. If any email asks you for a payment, it’s safer to go directly to the company’s website to log in and make a payment instead of clicking a link in the email, especially if it’s a payment you weren’t expecting.)
Always Use MFA.
MFA stands for multi-factor authentication. It is a security feature that requires you to provide another form of identification in addition to a password to log in to an account.
Even if you haven’t heard of “multi-factor authentication” before, you’ve almost certainly come across it when logging into a bank account (asking questions like “What is your grandmother’s maiden name?) or accessing your email account from a new device (it might send a PIN to your cell phone and ask you to confirm it).
Multi-factor authentication adds an additional layer of security by requiring that second identifier. It means that even if a cyber criminal steals your password, they will not be able to get through the MFA without actually having your cell phone, knowing more personal information, or actually being you (in the case that the authenticator requires a biometric identifier like a fingerprint or face scan).
MFA is an extremely simple tool that has extremely effective benefits: according to Microsoft, it can block 99.9% of password attacks. Every business, whether remote or not, should use MFA to secure accounts and devices.
Train Employees on General Safety Practices.
All of your remote workers must practice safe use of their networks and your business information while working remotely. These common-sense practices include never downloading from unknown sources, not clicking on suspicious links or attachments, and using strong passwords.
Cybersecurity should be a priority for all businesses, remote or not. But when your employees are equipped with the right tools, processes, and training, you can significantly increase your company’s safety.