Shifting to a remote workforce brings many benefits but can also produce blind spots that leave companies vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Because of the wide variety of cyber-attacks, businesses can take several protective measures.
Here are six ways to strengthen a business’s cybersecurity to support a remote workforce.
1. Encourage Secure Connections
Whether the team connects to on or offsite hosted servers or cloud services, remote security starts with an impenetrable connection. While cloud services hold and encrypt private data virtually so that employees can safely access files and data anywhere, the company can be at risk if accessed through an unsecured connection.
Invest in a VPN
Suppose a connection to the internet was a highway. In that case, a VPN (virtual private network) is a secret tunnel keeping information and data away from the prying eyes of anyone else on the same highway.
However, when choosing a VPN service, be wary of free ones as they may sell data to third-party services.
Change company policy to prohibit public WiFis
Public WiFi is much more vulnerable than private WiFi. Anyone can create a public WiFi, which allows them to see traffic over that network. More often than not, that public WiFi is unsecured or lowly secured, making it easy for others on the same network to access data being shared on the network. By prohibiting public WiFis, you can avoid the risks. If an employee or team’s role requires them to use WiFi in public areas, provide them with the ability to create personal hotspots (i.e., private WiFi) to negate the risk.
2. Supply Hardware with Controlled Access
What employees do in their free time is up to them–but it could affect the business if they use the same computer for both. Eliminate this problem by supplying hardware–whether a laptop, cellphone, or both–with the same access to websites, systems, and applications they would have in the office.
3. Enforce Complex Logins
A cyber-attack can be as simple as guessing a password and gaining entry. These are two ways to prevent this from happening.
Assign complex passwords
The more complex a password is, the harder it is for a hacker to guess it. Assign passwords to employees with at least eight characters made up of upper and lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers. By creating passwords for your employees, you can ensure complexity. They can use personalized questions/hints or password encryption software to remember them.
Use multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication is when a unique code is sent to a user, usually to a mobile device or email, after inputting their login credentials. Once the user inputs the code, they can access the program or application. This extra step is very effective in spotting and stopping hackers.
If the application or software doesn’t use multi-factor authentication, there are third-party applications you can use.
Change passwords regularly
Regularly changing passwords limits how likely it is that it will be compromised. Some services require regular password changes, but reminders can be set up for those that don’t require updates. Recommended timeframes for updating passwords are every six months to one year.
When updating a password, don’t reuse previous passwords. A compromised password will always leave you vulnerable, even ten years into the future.
Use unique logins
Once one site’s password is compromised, everywhere else that password is used becomes vulnerable. Avoid widespread exposure by using different passwords for each login.
One tip to overcome composing and remembering several complex passwords is to use a 3rd party password generator and vault software. A generator ensures solid and unique passwords, and the vault software reduces the number of passwords you need to remember.
4. Software Safety
Software-level cyber-attacks can devastate a company but can often be prevented by simple actions. These are two steps to take to protect a company.
Vet your software
When choosing which software a business will use, it’s essential to ensure it’s reputable and secure. That means investigating the software company to see if it’s a real company and ensuring it has suitable security measures for the business’s industry.
After both are confirmed, share the correct link with the employees, pre-download the software on their computers, or store it in the cloud to avoid employees using malicious or fraudulent download links.
Implement routine updates and virus scans
Most updates are responses to security concerns, which means a vulnerability is being created if employees are using old versions of programs. Therefore, keeping software updated is imperative.
To ensure that updates and scans are being done, a company policy can be made to enable automatic updates, reminders can be sent to them, or updates can be pushed to machines via 3rd party software.
5. Back up data
Cybersecurity is doing the right things to prevent and prepare for an attack. All data should be backed up regularly, whether to the cloud, an offsite location, or an offline location. These back-ups prepare a company to respond and reduce downtime during and after malicious attacks, power outages, or natural disasters.
6. Train employees to spot and respond to attacks
This one is an often-overlooked step but a significant one. Employees are often the targets of cyberattacks, and it could be disastrous for a company if they don’t know how to identify an attack. Employee awareness can be raised by having training sessions and executing simulation tests.
Have questions about keeping a remote workforce secure? Contact us for help.