Remote working is basically working outside the four secure walls of a business premise. Whether it’s part of the business policies or is a move necessitated by the current coronavirus pandemic, working remotely exposes both the work devices and confidential information to risk.
In this article, we look at some of the risks of telecommuting. We will also share the best security tips to keep you protected.
Risks of working remotely
While working remotely has its benefits, there are risks. Below are some things to be aware of when working from home.
Working away from the office overlooks some basic best IT practices that are the norm in the office environment. It is difficult to stick to them when an employee is working from a café or home. It’s possible to have employees plugin unchecked printers, file transfer devices, and so on; all this in a bid to get the job done.
These are risky behaviors and many a time exposes the company documents to leakage. Take, for instance, an employee who borrows a flash drive to save a file for printing, and returns the drive to the owner without deleting company documents.
This risk becomes a concern when a company allows its employees to use their personal devices for remote work. Although it saves a company the trouble of having to procure additional devices, it is risky behavior — especially for the company’s work network.
A personal device may be infected with malicious software that steals confidential data and sends it to hackers over the internet. The hackers may then device ransomware and launch an attack on the company’s network; an action that might result in massive data loss.
Unsecured and unattended devices are another risk associated with remote working and one that can lead to compromising confidential information. This happens when a remote employee leaves screens with corporate information running or when he keeps the devices without passwords.
Weak passwords are also a threat to the privacy of company devices and data.
Security Tips for Remote Working
Now that you know some of the risks of working remotely, you can take measures to prevent nefarious activity. Use these cybersecurity tips below to protect your business.
Use Complex Login and Account Access Processes
To prevent unauthorized access, lock all your devices with hard to guess passwords. You should also secure all accounts like emails and company accounts with the two-step authentication process. The authentication processes make it hard for hackers to access your accounts as a prompt notification is sent to alert you of any login attempts.
After accessing your work profiles, remember to log out. Never use easy to guess passwords and remember to always use different passwords for different platforms.
No External Drives, Please!
Do not plug a removable device into your work gadget unless the IT department approves of it. The department can issue remote workers with secured USB devices for file transfer whenever it’s necessary.
This will minimize the risk of sharing an infected removable device, which may install malware that spies on your work network without you even knowing it.
Provide Security Protection
Since remote working requires employees to stay in touch over the internet, the company should see to it that there are sufficient security protection measures in place. Ensuring that there’s a Virtual Private Network (VPN) installed on each employee’s device is the best way to secure all the traffic sent and received over the internet.
VPNs offer a data encryption technology that makes a user's online activities anonymous making it hard for hackers and cybercriminals to intercept. With device and data encryption in place, a company does not have to worry about the security of the internet connections that employees use while working away from the office.
Perform Regular Backups
Remote workers should endeavor to back up their data regularly. The practice should be mandatory and preferably online. With this, the company will not have a hard time restoring user data if a work device is stolen.
If online backups are not available, then remote workers can use external drives. However, external drives should be secured under lock and key, otherwise, their exposure may create another data security issue.
Avoid Oversharing Information
Avoid sharing content that needs not be shared. For example, while working from an open café, be cautious about the information people can read from your active work screens. Similarly, you should be careful about the environment when answering business-related calls; you never know who is eavesdropping.
With a little creativity and a willingness to remain vigilant, remote employees can comfortably and safely enjoy the flexibility that comes with working away from the office.
I hope the above tips will help you create a strong and secure remote work network. You may also find these guides on transitioning to remote working and how to be more productive while working from home.
About the Author
Jack is an accomplished cybersecurity expert with years of experience under his belt at TechWarn, a trusted digital agency to world-class cybersecurity companies. He’s into all things digital, from cryptocurrencies to the latest IoT gadgets. You’ll find him all over the internet sharing ideas about a tech-enabled future.
Katie Jenison is a freelance writer offering copywriting, blogging, and ghostwriting services. She works closely with home builders, remodelers, interior designers, real estate and property management professionals to help them create content marketing strategies, improve their digital presence, generate leads, and engage with their target audience. Katie also helps freelance writers and creative entrepreneurs pursue their dreams of working from home by providing tips and advice, business strategies, and writing tips on her blog, The Quiet Type. Download her free workbook, A Freelancer’s Guide to Setting Rates, here.