Remote work offers employers cost savings in a variety of ways and can provide better job satisfaction. But along with remote work comes data security headaches.
According to the 2018 State of the Industry Information Security report from Shred-it, 86 percent of C-Suite executives see remote work as increasing their risks of a data breach. So what causes all these risks with remote work? Here are a few examples:
· Unsecured wireless networks
· Confidential files in public places
· Sharing a work computer with other household members for personal use
· Unsecured mobile devices used to access company information
· Phishing attacks
If your company is looking to convert your business to remote workers, you need to take several actions to protect your data security first. For remote work to be safe, you must enact policies, tighten up VPN requirements and more. Here’s a look at how to prepare for having remote workers.
Add a Cybersecurity Policy to Your Employee Handbook
Educating employees about the risks of a data breach and your expectations of their role in protecting your organization from such a breach is the first step in protecting your organization from an attack.
Employees need to know that protecting company data is of the utmost importance. Individuals who don’t work in technology are often not aware of the risks involved in data security, which is why education is so important.
Some employees might assume that because they don’t access customer data they aren’t at risk of being a part of a security breach. However, any employee with a company computer can be the source of a data breach, no matter whether or not their job role includes accessing customer data.
Setting forth a cybersecurity policy will educate your team and prepare them to take proper next steps in case of a security breach. That way, everyone is looking out for your company’s security.
Remove Unsecured Wireless Internet From the Equation
When employees access company information from an unsecured wireless network, they are basically inviting hackers to view your confidential data. But you can’t go to the home of every employee and secure their home network.
And forbidding them from working from a coffee shop or hotel while traveling isn't realistic or going to give your employees the sense of flexibility they're looking for from remote work.
Instead, the answer to the challenge of unsecured internet access is requiring employees to connect to a virtual private network (VPN) before they can use company programs or access confidential information.
A VPN encrypts the user’s activity, making the security as though they were working from the office. Just be sure that your company’s VPN is extremely secure.
Not all VPN connections provide the level of security that organizations need to stay safe. Reach out to the AOP team with questions about how we can ensure your network is secure for remote work.
Use a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
While using a VPN provides security, a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) offers even further protection from security breaches. Each employee will have a virtual desktop hosted in the cloud. It will look and feel just how they want it and be loaded with the programs they need to do their job.
The big difference in using a VDI is that the actual computer your employees work from is hosted on your network and secure. Even if their laptop is lost, stolen or runs into technical issues, they can pick up a new laptop and resume their work right where they left off.
There’s no risk of information falling into the wrong hands because devices store no confidential data at all, if used properly. And accessing your VDI requires a secure connection, so there’s no way for your employees to bypass the step of logging into the VPN to work because the VDI is only available through your network.
Remote work is so much simpler and safer with a VDI and your employees will enjoy the experience. That’s because they’re connecting directly to your network and using a desktop hosted on the cloud, which means super-fast reaction times and improved productivity. So even if their laptop is fairly old, they’ll enjoy the speed and ease of use of cutting-edge technology thanks to VDI.
When traveling, employees can choose to carry one computer instead of a work and personal laptop. That’s because they can securely log into their virtual desktop from any device, so long as your IT team has approved such use.
Increase Your Password Requirements
Weak passwords leave your network vulnerable to attacks and can make it very simple for hackers to infiltrate your confidential data. Educate your workers on the importance of keeping their passwords secure and not reusing passwords from other programs or devices.
Password security training can help your employees understand the importance of secure passwords and how to make strong passwords. The more educated your employees are, the more likely they’ll be to get on board with password security and make it a standard they live by.
Increase your password requirements to include numbers and special characters and require that your employees update their passwords every few months.
Require Two-factor Authentication
Using two-factor authentication can further improve your network security. Before allowing users to access the system, have them log in and then send a special code to their cell phone.
That way, hackers cannot pose as your employees because they don’t have access to both passwords and cell phones normally. This practice adds another layer of protection to your security practices and can reduce password sharing among employees.
Some organizations take two-factor authentication one step further by requiring a fingerprint or retinal scan to access information. These practices are more expensive as they require added equipment and can make employees feel a bit uncomfortable about using their biometric data at work.
But for companies who deal with secure data, such measures might be necessary to protect the information employees access daily.
Manage Devices Remotely
When it comes to data security, being able to manage company devices remotely is important. That way, you can ensure the employee’s anti-virus software and malware protection stay up to date.
Requiring that employees do regular updates might not be realistic. They can put off the computer's notifications for days, weeks or even months because a computer shutdown is inconvenient. Instead, you can manage those updates in the background or do them after hours even when the employee is remote.
Additionally, you might want to create a way to wipe a device in case you learn it has been lost or stolen. Even with the best VPN practices and data security, employees might still keep confidential data on their work devices.
The moment your IT team learns of a compromised device, you can wipe it so that your company’s information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. You can also do this for email programs housing confidential data on an employee’s personal smartphone.
Many organizations now require employees to add a security app to their phone or only access work email through secure apps that can be wiped or removed if the phone falls into the wrong hands.
Improve Your Cloud Hosting Security
For speed and reliability, today’s technology demands managed cloud hosting. Moving your network to the cloud – public, private or hybrid – can actually improve your security. While you might have heard stories about cloud networks getting hacked, know that it is possible to secure a cloud-based network.
When cloud networks are configured correctly, they’re just as secure if not more secure than locally hosted networks. But they offer incredible speeds and bandwidth in a way local networks cannot.
A hybrid cloud network uses both public and private cloud networks to offer backups and provisions to protect your company and keep things running smoothly. Cloud hosting also empowers your organization to set up VDI to protect your data as described above.
How to Protect Data for Remote Work
AOP’s managed network security services offer a full assessment of your current practices and a plan for securing your data moving forward. Whether you have one remote employee or an entire remote team, we’ll help you protect your confidential information.
Request a free consultation with one of our specialists to learn more about our services and how we can help.