70 per cent of people worldwide work remotely at least once per week. It's an ever-growing trend within business and the numbers are expected to continue to rise. In part advances in technology have facilitated the number of remote workers.
Remote working offers many benefits to employers and employees but it also comes with extra security issues you need to be aware of.
We have highlighted nine remote work security tips that we consider essential to any company with remote workers.
Benefits of remote working
Firstly this article is not meant to scare you off remote working. Instead, the aim is to make you aware of the security concerns you will face with remote working. That's why we will quickly cover some of the benefits that remote working offers.
Remote working options can:
- Improve employee retention and productivity.
- Increase your employee options. By not being tied to one location your employment search can go further.
- Reduce company overhead costs by reducing or removing the need for office space and equipment.
- Eliminate the daily commute, reducing emissions and your carbon footprint.
Remote working security best practices
Remote working offers definite value to a company but there are extra security issues compared to the traditional office environment.
What are the security risks working remotely?
Your business is at greater risk due to phishing attacks. Employees are more likely to access your network with unsecured devices or using unsecure connections when working from home. This gives cyber criminals an opportunity to gain access to your network.
Remote working security tips for employers
First, we will take a look at security best practices for employers who offer remote working.
How can I work from home securely?
Firstly you need to understand the security gaps working from home creates. In the work environment you should be fully protected but that won't be the case. Understand what protection you are missing.
Make use of the Cloud
The Cloud is a great way to save data across multiple locations. Instead of using hard copies of data saved on your staff's devices you can store and access your data from the cloud. Not only will this aid collaboration but it will offer greater security for your data.
You can also take advantage of Cloud applications. Office 365 and QuickBooks are two examples of applications you can use for your business online, through the cloud. They have their own security features that are compliant with industry regulations.
Train your employees
First, you will need to create security guidelines for your staff to follow. However, that alone is not enough. It is important to then train your employees on security best practices.
88 per cent of UK data breaches are caused by human error so your employees play a massive role in cybersecurity. Taking the time to educate your staff can often be your biggest cybersecurity win.
Use a VPN
Virtual public networks (VPNs) work similarly to firewalls. That is why they have become a popular security tool for remote workers. When you have staff working in the office they will be protected by your firewall. When employees start remote working they don't have that protection.
VPNs will protect the data on their device whilst also maintaining the same security and functionality as if they were within your company building.
Remote working security best practices for your employees
As mentioned earlier, your staff play a big role in your companies cybersecurity. It is easy for employees without an IT background to become complacent about security or assume the responsibility lays solely with the company.
However, your employees are your first line of defence when it comes to cybersecurity. It is important to educate your staff on these best practices and make sure they follow them.
Keep devices and applications updated
Updates are not just about getting the latest features. The majority of the time they are used to fix security vulnerabilities or make improvements to the security of an application. That is why it is so important to regularly update applications and the devices they are being used on.
You can create automatic updates but they can be delayed by the users so it is important that staff understand that these updates are important your cybersecurity efforts.
Look out for phishing emails
95 per cent of successful cyberattacks are the result of phishing scams. There is a whole range of different phishing email tactics but they are all designed to make the reader perform an action.
For information on how to spot phishing emails check out our detailed article. There are security measures that will help, such as anti-virus, but they can't stop every single phishing email. That it is why it's important to educate your employees on spotting phishing emails.
Use strong passwords
A strong password works as a first line of defence against cyber attack. The best advice is to use unique, strong passwords for each of your logins. The FBI has just announced their suggested best practices on passwords. They recommend longer passwords as opposed to short passwords using special characters.
"Instead of using a short, complex password that is hard to remember, consider using a longer passphrase. This involves combining multiple words into a long string of at least 15 characters," it added. "The extra length of a passphrase makes it harder to crack while also making it easier for you to remember."
Use Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
MFA adds another layer of security to your login. It means even if someone accesses your password if they cant access the authorisation step involved in MFA then they will be denied access. You can find out more information on what is multi-factor authentication and how it works in this article.
Avoid public Wi-Fi
Where possible avoid using public wireless networks. Although they offer easy access to the internet they offer that same level of access to hackers. Public Wi-Fi should only be used as a last resort and you should never access sensitive data or important accounts when using it.
Keep work separate
As many as one-third of employees use their company computer for personal use. That will invite security issues that your business might not be prepared for, or even aware of. Keep personal use off of company devices and you will also have to be aware of the security needed when employees use their own devices.
Remote working is more than just having your employees log in from home. Connecting to your network or accessing your data from outside of your office opens up new security risks you will need to address.
For help with setting up remote working for your business, or if you are already using remote working and want to check your security get in touch to see how we can help.
You can contact us here, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01634 52 52 52.