For business leaders to ensure that their corporate data and the information of their customers is secure, they must prioritize cybersecurity.
Protecting the security of our devices against the threat of criminal hackers has never been more important, especially with organizations transitioning to a remote workforce.
To maintain operational security, remote employees must do their part to prevent mistakes that could result in data breaches.
In this blog, we discuss the threats facing remote employees and the tactics you can introduce to protect them.
1. Educate employees
If you want employees to truly understand the importance of cybersecurity, they must know what is at stake. There has been a 400% increase in cyberattacks since the start of the pandemic, and the risk certainly isn’t going away.
If an organization is found to be at fault for the loss of customer data due to a cyberattack, then there can be severe repercussions, including fines and reputational damage. The bottom line is that if the company struggles, that could mean a loss of jobs.
That’s why HR departments must be proactive about data security and enrol employees in staff awareness training classes as soon as they are hired.
2. Back up digital documents
Going paperless and keeping digital documentation is a great way to eliminate waste, but you must protect those assets or they may be compromised by malicious actors.
You will almost certainly have countless digital documents on your servers that must be protected, including invoices, contracts, employee files, and non-disclosure agreements.
If any of these are lost, it can be detrimental to your organization. As such, you must make extra copies on a separate server so that you can access the information in the event that the original documents are compromised.
3. Apply software updates
The IT team must ensure that remote employees have up-to-date software on their devices at all times.
Applying updates promptly is essential in order to manage business technology risks inherent to any organization. If an employee gets a message that an update is available, they should notify management immediately.
4. Adopt a password policy
The first line of defense against criminal hackers is a strong password, so IT must implement rules regarding password creation and management.
Passwords must be unique, avoiding obvious themes such as a pet’s name or favorite sports team. Cybersecurity experts also often recommend a combination of at least 8 letters, numbers, and special characters.
5. Implement two-factor authentication
Until recently, a strong password was the only common way to secure an account. However, there has been a widespread push for multi-factor authentication, which adds a second layer of security and protects employees in the event that their password is compromised.
Multi-factor authentication requires individuals to provide a password and to enter a second piece of information. This might be a code that’s sent to their phone, or in more complex systems, it can be a fingerprint or retinal scan.
6. Install antivirus software
While a password is a good way to thwart criminal hackers, it’s not the only way you can protect yourself. Crooks often compromise data by exploiting system vulnerabilities and uploading a virus.
Organizations must mitigate this risk by installing an antivirus program. Software packages alert users when they are interacting with a file that could contain malware, preventing intrusions at the source.
However, organizations should also run scans several times a week to be sure that nothing has snuck into their systems.
7. Warn employees about Wi-Fi scams
One of the perks of being a remote employee is the opportunity to work from anywhere, including in public places like coffee shops and restaurants.
However, employees should be made aware of the risks involved with doing this. Criminal hackers are adept at creating their own Wi-Fi networks that mimic legitimate services. Once someone connects, the crook can siphon off any information made between the individual and the network.
Organizations should implement a policy that governs the rules on working in public places. It’s often unreasonable to outlaw it completely, particularly if employees are required to travel as part of their job.
However, public Wi-Fi security should be covered as part of your staff awareness training, and your information security policy must contain guidance that addresses the risk.
8. Use a VPN
A further way to protect remote employees from criminal hacker is by using a VPN (virtual private network).
A VPN automatically encrypts incoming and outgoing data, and it will also disguise the employee’s location so they cannot easily become a target.
Organizations must create a company-wide VPN that employees must be connected to at all times.
9. Protect home computers
Even if your corporate network is secure, organizations must be aware of the separate risks related to employees’ personal Wi-Fi.
If an attacker can compromise an employee’s computer or Internet router, they will gain direct access to your sensitive information and bypass the security mechanisms on your corporate network.
As such, it’s essential that your IT team educates staff on the risk and the steps they must take to protect themselves. Even though they work from home, their networks are an extension of your organisation’s security systems, so employees must understand the importance of protecting their home devices.
10. Educate employees about phishing scams
Arguably the most important way to protect remote employees is by educating them on the threat of common scams, including phishing emails.
According to Cisco’s 2021 Cybersecurity Threat Trends report, almost 90% of data breaches occur due to phishing.
They pose a particular risk to employees because there is only so much that technology can do to mitigate the risk. If an employee clicks a malicious link or downloads an infected attachment, it could give the attackers instant access to the organization’s sensitive data.
To prevent this from happening, organizations must implement staff awareness training to explain how phishing scams work and what employees should look out for.
An ideal place to start when providing those lessons is our Phishing Staff Awareness E-Learning Course.
This online course explains everything you need to know about scams, from phony text messages and emails to telephone con artists.
Your staff will learn about specific cons, the consequences of a successful attack, and how to identify a bogus message before it’s too late.