As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people have transitioned to working remotely. Working remotely offers many benefits to both employees and companies, but it also comes with some challenges, one of which is security challenges. Remote working poses special security challenges that are absent in a traditional working setting. Due to the cybersecurity threats that come with working remotely, employees and companies alike must make efforts in securing remote work. To help you secure remote working is the reason for this guide. In this, we will be discussing some simple steps that you can take to secure remote working. Make sure you read till the end as you’ll be learning some important tips that will be of great value to you or your company. Let’s now proceed to look at some simple steps to secure remote working.
Best Practices to Secure Remote Working
1. Establish a cybersecurity policy
Developing a cybersecurity policy is one of the first steps companies can take in securing remote working. They must put up a clear cybersecurity policy to ensure that all employees prioritize data security. Believe it or not, there are employees today that do not see data security as something to take seriously, at both a professional and personal level. These employees make the mistake of assuming that only those who operate at a higher level within the company hierarchy are meant to worry themselves about data security. Therefore, organizations should not assume that their employees know about cybersecurity or their roles in it. Instead of assuming, organizations should establish a clear cybersecurity policy and make it mandatory for both existing and new employees to review and sign the policy, without minding whether the employee works remotely or not.
Make sure you include in your policy document the reasons why you have put up the policy in the first place, the various security protocols you expect employees to comply with, the assistance the company will render in helping employees comply (like the resources and tools they’ll make available), and a section where the employees will sign their commitment to adhering to the policy.
Everyone in a company must play their part in data security (both employers and employee data); one way of ensuring this happens is to have a clear cybersecurity policy in place. When you establish a cybersecurity policy all employees, those who are working remotely and those who are working from the office, are likely to be on the same page with regards to data security.
2. Ensure all internet connections are secure
A Wi-Fi network that is not secured is one of the common ways by which a company's data security gets breached. To prevent the company’s data security from getting breached, employees should be educated on how they can use a virtual private network (VPN) when signing in to public Wi-Fi networks. Data encryption is a good security practice and is even more important for securing remote working. Most VPNs provide built-in encryption, and so, the use of this software will help remote workers protect their data transmissions from external parties.
Usually, you can choose between Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or IP Security (IPsec) when using VPNs. IPsec VPNs are installed manually and are configured on the remote device. For operators to gain access to the corporate network using IPsec VPNs, they will need to enter details like the security key and gateway IP address of the target network.
SSL VPNs, on the other hand, are not difficult to install. Rather than installing them manually, the VPN client is published to the company firewall and is made available for public download. The publishing of the VPN client and making it available for public download is done by the network administrator. The employee can proceed to download the VPN client when it is made available for public download.
Note: All VPNs are not created equal and so, it is important for the organization to verify that the VPN they are using fits the purpose they need it for and not just last-mile encryption.
3. Ensure passwords are strong and varied and implement a password management software
Keeping passwords safe is another simple step that you can take to secure remoting working. Companies should educate their employees (especially those working remotely) about password protection. This cautious behavior is one of the keys to securing the company's data.
Training your employees on password security is another important cybersecurity training that you can offer them. You can start with little things like keeping passwords strong and the need for them to avoid using the same password over and over again.
Another way companies and employees can mitigate password risks is to implement password management software. A password management software will help to store passwords safely, generate and retrieve random complex password combinations, and can also contain automated password rotation. With password management software, employers will not need to struggle in remembering the passwords they used for different programs, and this will help to keep the company data uncompromised and secured.
4. Use encryption software
Another important step companies and employees can take to secure remote working is to use encryption software. The use of encryption software will prevent unwanted or unauthorized access to data. For example, if an employee’s device containing sensitive information of the company he works for is lost or stolen, then that device may get into the wrong hands, thereby exposing the company to vulnerabilities and data breaches. Encryption software can protect the company’s data by preventing access by any unauthorized user(s) of the device.
Also, organizations must ensure that programs used for email, chatting, or general communication utilizes end-to-end encryption. Programs that use end-to-end encryption are incredibly strong and cannot be easily hacked if the two end-points are secure.
5. Apply two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication is one of the steps organizations can employ in securing their data. By applying two-factor authentication, users will have to confirm their identity by either entering a pin sent to their cell phones or answering a “secret question” in addition to entering their username and password.
Passwords can be stolen or comprised, but with two-factor authentication, the chances of someone having access to your account is very slim. For any access, the person must first provide a pin or provide the answer to the additional security question. With the added layer of security that comes with two-factor authentication, organizations and their employees that work remotely can have peace of mind knowing well that their data cannot be easily breached.
If an organization wants to take the authentication a step further, they can move for multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication is more secured as it requires added verification like biometrics.
Other steps to securing remote working include:
- Designating and securing specific remote working devices
- Managing sensitive data securely
- Collaborating with vendors and third-party partners that are committed to remote security
- Moving your business applications to the cloud
- Employing the principle of least privilege