The coronavirus pandemic forced many businesses around the world to adopt remote work security policies almost overnight. Now, even as some cities and states across the country start to loosen restrictions and allow business operations to return to normal, some companies are choosing to stick with remote work as a permanent option for their workers.
Adopters of this trend include Silicon Valley companies like Facebook and Twitter, but businesses of all shapes and sizes are realizing that business can proceed more or less as “normal” even when working from home. One of the biggest challenges of this transition is implementing security standards to govern a new remote workforce.
What Changes When Workers Leave the Office
Remote work arrangements can offer clear benefits and flexibility to your employees, as well as help your business reduce overhead in the form of office rent and other related expenses. But it also opens the door to chaos if remote security measures aren’t put in place.
Remote work presents an entirely new set of challenges that businesses haven’t faced when workers were located in an office. Wi-Fi networks were easy to secure, endpoints were managed on the company’s premises, device access to business assets and properties was easier to restrict, and security messaging and reminders were easier to dispense.
Once employees go remote, the company’s control of cybersecurity is put to the test. But this work arrangement can still be managed by identifying the top security concerns and implementing protocols and safeguards to address these new challenges.
Top Remote Work Security Issues
If companies want to embrace remote work options for their employees, they need to take a proactive approach to addressing security issues before those vulnerabilities are exposed through a breach. Top security issues include the following:
- Public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks. One of the easiest ways to hack into your company’s private assets is to set up a presence on a network that isn’t properly secured. This includes Wi-Fi networks in coffee shops, as well as home networks that haven’t been secured through encryption.
- Using devices, software, and apps that haven’t downloaded the latest updates. Many of these updates deliver security patches and other updates to help prevent a security breach.
- Using a personal device for business purposes. Although there are ways to use personal devices safely, businesses must implement security measures and train employees on how to provision personal activities and apps from business solutions.
Oftentimes, the causes for security breaches are caused by simple mistakes or lapses in judgment. Companies can help mitigate these vulnerabilities through a mix of protocols and security solutions designed specifically for remote workers.
Safeguards to Implement with Remote Workers
If you’re implementing a remote work policy for the first time, make sure you take these essential security steps:
- Instruct employees to secure their home networks through an encrypted password. Remind them to change any passwords from the default password offered on some devices, which offers hackers an easy path around this security measure.
- Train employees on how to use a VPN if they’re using an unsecured network. If public or unsecured networks are the only option, a virtual private network (VPN) can provide the security employees need to keep security threats at bay.
- Educate employees on the importance of installing software patches and app updates. Uninstalled security updates are one of the easiest ways for hackers, malware, and other security threats to gain access to your company’s system.
- Use corporate software and resources to send email and to store and share data and assets. Even if workers are using personal devices, it’s smart to have those devices provisioned so that corporate documents and assets aren’t being stored on a personal Google Drive account. Stick to the encrypted and secured corporate resources already managed by IT, such as corporate email and chat platforms, cloud-based storage, and other secure project management and collaboration tools.
- Adopt a remote work security solution that can secure endpoint devices and manage corporate data. A remote security solution can provide comprehensive security coverage through a wide range of control measures, such as managing authorizations and flagging suspicious activity.
As remote work becomes more common, the benefits are becoming even more obvious and appealing to businesses. But the efficiency and value of remote work can only be leveraged when you’re able to ensure consistent security across your remote workforce.
Looking for more tips on improving security for remote workers? Check out our free webinar, “Securing Remote Work.”