Remote work skyrocketed in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many offices to close their doors and move their staff into home offices around the globe. This has effectively changed the way companies operate, and many have shifted to a remote workforce model altogether.
As employers continue to move away from in-office culture and towards at least a partially-remote model, new challenges are presented around how to effectively and securely manage remote staff. Cybercriminals are adapting to target vulnerabilities found within remote work environments more quickly than IT staff can keep up with.
It’s more important now than ever to ensure your remote workforce is as secure as possible. We’ve compiled the top 5 tips to help keep your data and your employees secure as they work from home.
Enforce Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication is a way to validate that login requests made by employees to critical applications are being made by the correct person. It utilizes different means of verifying the identity of the person making the login request, typically with the use of specific security challenge questions, push notifications, or text messages.
Enforcing MFA through solutions like Cisco Duo safeguards employee accounts against password theft or easily guessed passwords. This policy should be strictly enforced to protect all remote staff from potential cyberthreats.
Promote Anti-Phishing Awareness
Phishers use the power of human error to access company data through communication tools like email. Phishing scams are on the rise, and experts have seen a 600% increase in phishing emails since the influx of remote work beginning in mid-March of this year. The best way to safeguard employees against this type of online threat is to educate them on some of the tell-tale signs found within a phishing email.
Utilizing tools like Cisco Email Security and training programs meant to educate your staff will help to thwart potential hacking attempts through robust Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and real-time threat intelligence.
Utilize a VPN or Virtual Desktop Environment
Use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or Remote Desktop environment ensures that your most critical business information is only accessed by those with the authority to do so. VPNs encrypt traffic through a private tunnel so those applications housed onsite or in a data center can be accessed without doing so over the public internet. Remote desktop setups operate similarly, requiring employees to establish a secure connection to your internal network before being allowed to company data.
VPN solutions like Cisco AnyConnect are easy to set up and offer the secure connection needed to protect your most critical assets.
Implement Policies for Remote Work
Because remote work may be new for much of your staff, it’s important to set some guidelines about how to protect your assets from cyber threats. This policy will not only set some expectations for your remote workforce, but it will also point out the types of things hackers target, educating employees to stay vigilant.
The following should be highly considered when developing this policy:
- No use of public WiFi – only home networks or personal hotspots.
- Password complexity policies that include length, character and retention requirements.
- The use of up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software.
These policies should be reassessed at regular intervals by your IT leadership team to ensure they are aligned with the solutions you have in place.
Back Up Business Systems and Endpoints
Keeping your servers, endpoints, and applications on a regular backup schedule is the best way to safeguard your data before it ever has the chance to become compromised. Cybercriminals often breach networks to hold data ransom, demanding financial payments before releasing it back to you.
Many mitigation and recovery efforts made by companies that have fallen victim to ransomware were successful in large part because they were able to restore systems from a previous backup, rather than submitting to the demands of the hacker.
Do You Need Help With Remote Workforce Management?
Is your remote workforce management solution as strong as it should be? Navigating through the transition from in-office to remote work while continuing to maintain proper security standards can be daunting if you’re not sure where to start.
Our team at Custom Computer Specialists understands the benefits that remote work can offer to your business, as well as the importance of ensuring your solutions away from the office are as secure as possible. If you’re concerned about the stability of your remote work environment, get your IT action plan started today.