Dale Strickland of security firm CurrentWare outlines the cybersecurity risks and best practices to keep in mind while working remotely.
Whether your team is a fully blended workforce, transitioning to remote teams or simply offering flexible working arrangements, cybersecurity will need to be adapted to account for the unique risks that accompany working from outside of the office.
Below are some of the cybersecurity risks to be mindful of when your team is working remotely.
Allowing the use of personal devices in the workplace is convenient, however the cybersecurity hygiene of these devices is undoubtedly nowhere near as robust as a dedicated work-only device that is managed by your IT department.
Remote workers benefit from location flexibility, but they may be using public Wi-Fi hotspots that can inadvertently expose sensitive data. Cybercriminals can take advantage of lacklustre public Wi-Fi security to snoop for data sent over the network, among other potential attacks.
It’s easier to monitor for a lack of cybersecurity hygiene when employees are working in-house. Employees working from home are likely to feel safer and more relaxed, potentially leading to poor cybersecurity practices such as leaving their workstation unlocked when it’s not in use or browsing potentially risky websites.
The mobility potential of remote workers makes them more vulnerable to risks caused by a lack of physical security. When travelling, the likelihood that their devices will be lost or stolen increases greatly and people passing by may have a line of sight to the contents of their screen.
So, with these in mind, how should you get started with remote workforce cybersecurity?
Virtual private networks (VPN) and remote access environments provide remote workers with encrypted access to the internet. VPNs can also be used to securely connect remote workers to a dedicated secure server where they can access sensitive files without needing to copy them to their own devices, providing an added layer for mitigating the potential for data breaches.
2. Mobile device management
If your remote employees are provided with designated devices, a mobile device management (MDM) system provides you with methods for remotely managing mobile devices to ensure their security.
With an MDM, you can remotely wipe sensitive data, use GPS to find lost or stolen devices and ensure that patch management is properly maintained.
3. Mobile routers
If remote employees are working from outside of their designated working space, mobile routers can provide a secure private internet connection for them to use. Mobile routers are excellent tools for mitigating the temptation to use unsecure Wi-Fi hotspots.
4. Cloud access security brokers
A remote workforce will rely heavily on cloud computing technology to collaborate seamlessly. While reputable cloud service companies should have data security as a top priority, cloud access security brokers can provide an added layer of security by acting as a secure gatekeeper between your organisation and the cloud service provider.
5. Policies and training
Remote workers need to be made aware of their unique risk levels and how that will affect their workflows and behaviours. Clearly defined remote working policies and cybersecurity training will provide your remote workforce with the structure they need to perform their duties effectively, without compromising data security.
Useful cybersecurity tools you can incorporate into your virtual workplace practice include password managers such as Dashlane and LastPass, advanced threat detection software such as Falcon OverWatch, and VPNs such as AnyConnect.
The importance of infrastructure
If you are just getting started, your remote employees will benefit greatly from the infrastructure you create. As your remote workforce evolves, you will need to continue to make adjustments to policies and practices that meet their needs and keep them working effectively.
Adapting to a remote workforce for the first time will undoubtedly come with some growing pains, but so long as you work with your remote staff to provide them with the resources they need, you will open opportunities for them to thrive.
Dale Strickland is a marketing coordinator at CurrentWare, an employee monitoring and security provider.