7 Security Tips Worth Considering When Working Remotely

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August 8, 2017

7 Security Tips Worth Considering When Working Remotely

Working remotely is the new trend that seeks to lessen the security risks. Unfortunately, these seem to be an issue that never goes away. Be it as it may, you can manage to combat online security threats using the following ways.

Today, very few businesses don’t work remotely and many that do use it for the better part of their working hours. Some companies may not see the need for working remotely yet they have employees that take work home or work from conference venues, hotel suites, and while commuting; all these are examples of remote working.

Accountability is a major issue that is synonymous with such casual form of remote working more so when trying to figure out how the business IT networks used work. It is a matter that often goes unnoticed when laying down cyber security policies and procedures. Failure to address this issue only places companies and organization at risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks.

Remote working, whether used as a mandatory element in the running of operations and getting work done or a formalized arrangement, can leave the IT network and systems vulnerable to attacks and breaches.

The first step is to know which areas in the running of the business are at risk, only then can you effectively manage the security or remote working. After that, run an awareness-raising campaign that will enlighten the workforce of the various actions they may do that may compromise the safety and the step to take that protect the business’ systems and networks.

The cyber security policies put in place should include various risks associated with working remotely and the procedures and guidelines to follow when working away from the office. If employees need to hide their IP when working, there should be a clear process to follow. Clear steps should also exist if they need to dispose of potentially sensitive digital data.

There should also be an explanation of the actions to be taken if an employee working remotely is believed or found to have compromised the company’s security, and which disciplinary actions should be taken.

Below are some tips that provide an excellent starting point:

  1. Keep Mobile Devices and Laptops Safe
    Lost and stolen laptops and mobile devices with insufficient security protocols are often easy pickings for cybercriminals. The first and easiest defensive measure is to ensure that you always have these business assets close to you and constantly within your sight. They should never be left in the car, hotel room or safes, or the conference rooms.

    The second thing to do is password protect the devices. Ensure you use a strong password and encryption. Lastly, install mobile management apps such as AirWatch that will give you or your employee’s administrative rights to secure and recover the lost mobile devices.

  2. Exceptional Password Hygiene
    Reverting to the use of passwords, these do not just prevent unauthorized access to the gadgets in the event they are lost or stolen, they also keep hackers from gaining access. It is imperative that you exercise vigorous password hygiene which includes the use of a long multi-character password and with a two-step authentication process. Also, ensure that every system, network, and device has a unique password.

  3. Up-To-Dated Security Protocols
    Every device, network, and system in the company or organization should be protected with antivirus, firewalls, encryption, and web filtering and other protective and preventive software, and this applies to even the private or personal devices that employees use at work for remote working.

    It may be a complicated matter since your workforce may feel that this invades on their personal use of the gadgets. However, your cyber security policies should be structured in a manner that addresses these issues; making cyber security protection mandatory restricting the use of personal devices when conducting critical business, or ensuring the employees have access to and use company owned devices.

  4. Email Encryption and Best Practices
    Emailing is a highly used digital technology particularly by employees who often work remotely and away from the office. However, it is a communication channel that can be used as a backdoor by cyber criminals. As such, it is important to incorporate a robust encryption and email management system.

    Mimecast is one of the many applications that you can install that help; it’s also important to make the staff aware of the vulnerabilities associated with email. Train them on spotting cyber threats such as phishing emails and set guidelines for the type of information that should and should not be shared via email (such as passwords and logins).

  5. Use of Secure Public Wi-Fi
    More often than not, the use of public Wi-Fi increases the risk of malicious attacks, and this is often the risk employees who have to work from conferences and hotel rooms face. The best thing is to connect to a trusted network, but that is not always possible.

    As such, the cyber security and remote working policies should explicitly stipulate that employees should avoid using public Wi-Fi when handling sensitive business. Ensure there is a policy in place that explains the systems and actions that should be taken in case a staff member needs to use public Wi-Fi.

    An alternative which some companies may want to explore is to use a VPN. Doing so gives much better protection and may be a good tradeoff between convenience and security when using public Wi-Fi. Fastest VPN Guide’s site lists multiple reputable providers everyone can consider. And though it may not seem like it, remember that VPN speed matters a whole lot too. A slow connection can make any remote work painful to the point of an employee not wanting to do it at all.

  6. Removable Devices
    The use of removable storage devices such as USB sticks is the most common way of introducing malware. It is important to check these removable devices first before accessing them, even if they are handouts given in a business conference. Also, restrict the use of new USBs only allowing a few individuals to plug in such devices into the company computers. If any has to use such devices, like to share information during a meeting, let the IT department handle such issues to check their security.
  7. Using Public Computers
    In most companies and organizations, the employees have personal laptops and mobile devices that they may at times use for remote working. However, sometimes the demands of work may push them to use a public computer such as those in the business suites in hotels or airports.

    Let the staff know of the security implications of using such computers and that they adhere to set guidelines that include:

    • Keeping the screen private (away from plain sight)
    • Consider using private browsing settings when accessing the internet
    • Not using public computers when handling sensitive data
    • To avoid saving private information such as passwords and logins
    • Clearing the browsing history
    • Deleting downloads before closing the browser and stepping away from the computer

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