network setup, including having to navigate multiple remote connections to their cloud platforms and office systems.
IT security takes on an entirely new look when you have a remote workforce. For example, businesses have to account for less secure home routers being used to transmit company information. Another concern is the protection of devices employees are using at home. Do they have the same antivirus safeguards? Are they updated regularly?
Statistics show that employees working from home typically aren’t receiving adequate data security training despite working with the same sensitive business data that they handle at the office.
Less than half of remote employees say they receive proper internet security training.
The good news is that while your I.T. infrastructure may look a little different now than it did before the pandemic, it’s fairly simple to secure your employees that are working remotely by following a few cybersecurity basics.
Best Practices for Data Security of a Remote Workforce
If employees are logging into the same cloud solutions that they do when at the office, you may think, “Why do I need to do anything differently with my security?”
But there are several different parts to an I.T. infrastructure, and cloud service security is just one of them. These best practices for remote worker security will help you ensure you’ve got all your bases covered to prevent a data breach.
Securing Network Connections First, we’ll look at the area of network connections. This includes how secure traffic is when connecting through a home Wi-Fi. It also includes the security of remote desktop connections that employees may need to use to connect to a desktop computer or server at your office. Home networks are less secure than business networks for a number of reasons. These include the fact that home routers aren’t built for business use, thus have less security. There are also typically more “high risk” devices on home networks (like smart security cameras). Here are ways to improve remote worker network security.
Use a VPN: A business VPN adds a tunnel of encryption to all internet connections. This means that even on less secure networks, you can ensure traffic is secure and protected.
Use a Whitelist for Windows Remote Desktop Connections: Instead of allowing anyone with administrative access to connect to your office servers or computers, set up whitelist. This is a remote group you designate with the users that have permission to login.
Put Work Devices on Another Home Network: Have employees set up a guest network. Most consumer routers have this feature. Then only use that guest network for work-related devices. This keeps them on a separate network than other devices in the home, reducing breach risk.
Securing Device Connections The next step for ensuring remote workers are protected from data breaches and malware infections is to look at the security of the devices they use. They may be using a work computer that they brought home or using their own personal computer for work. Either way, here are safeguards that should be in place for device security.
OS & Software Updates/Patches: Any computer or mobile device being used for work should be getting timely updates and patches applied. Not applying security patches is one of the major causes of data breaches. Put employee devices on a managed services plan to ensure updates are taken care of.
Antivirus/Anti-Malware: Make sure that the devices employees are using for work while at home are protected with a reliable antivirus/anti-malware program. That software should also be updated regularly.
Device Use Policies: Unless you specifically tell your employees what you expect when they’re working from home, they won’t know. Their confusion about how to handle their computer could cause security risks. Give them policies such as not allowing anyone else to use a work device and putting screen locks in place.
Securing Cloud Platforms Now is a good time to check the security settings of your cloud platforms to make sure they’re strong enough. You can use a tool like Microsoft Secure Score to check security settings in Office 365. Here are some cloud security basics to put in place:
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): MFA drastically reduces the risk of a data breach due to an account hack or stolen credentials. You should always have this in place for all your cloud accounts, and especially now.
Use the Rule of Least Privilege: When many small businesses first set up users in their cloud accounts, they give them all the same access privileges, even if they don’t need them. Reduce your risk by giving users the lowest privilege level they need to perform their job duties.
Use Your VPN to Track Cloud Usage: Many business-grade VPNs will allow you to attach them to your cloud accounts. This lets you monitor usage so you can immediately identify any fraudulent login attempts.