Although remote work existed before the pandemic, the pandemic-induced lockdowns propelled this concept to great heights. With the rise of remote work, employers and employees enjoyed unprecedented convenience and flexibility. Even after the pandemic, companies continued to allow remote work for their employees, and many big organizations have adopted a hybrid work culture.
Unfortunately, remote work culture is about more than convenience. This work culture has also ushered in its fair share of challenges, especially cybersecurity. Ensuring the integrity and safety of information is paramount because a massive amount of sensitive business data flows through remote devices and networks. This guide explores the steps remote workers can take to safeguard data security and accentuate cybersecurity.
The Revolution of Remote Work
Let us first understand the landscape of remote work before delving into cybersecurity. Remote work has emerged and evolved from a niche practice to a mainstream trend, primarily accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies have adopted remote work as a permanent or long-term arrangement, redefining the conventional office model.
Although this shift has been lauded by employers and employees alike, the shift has also brought with it cybersecurity risks. Remote employees are accessing company data and corporate networks from various devices, locations, and networks, making it paramount to protect sensitive information from potential threats.
What are The Cybersecurity Challenges of Remote Work?
The cybersecurity challenges of remote work are constantly evolving and diverse. Some of the common challenges are:
- Phishing attacks – Cyber attackers are increasingly targeting remote workers with phishing attacks. They are leveraging malicious links and deceptive emails to gain access to corporate networks and steal sensitive business data.
- Untrustworthy Wi-Fi networks – Compared to corporate networks, home networks are less secure. Hence, they are vulnerable to data breaches and hacking.
- Unsecured devices – Typically, personal devices are used for remote work. Mostly, these devices are unsecure and become entry points for cybercriminals.
- Vulnerabilities in remote desktop protocols – Several organizations use remote desktop protocols to enhance collaboration and streamline regular workflow. However, these protocols may have vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited by cybercriminals.
- Leakage of important data – The risk of data leakage is high with remote work because remote workers may inadvertently expose or share sensitive data.
These challenges must be addressed to create a secure and safe remote work environment. Both employees and employers must implement cybersecurity strategies to prevent data breaches and boost productivity.
Now, let’s look at the steps you can take to augment remote work cybersecurity.
What Steps Can You Take to Accentuate Remote Work Cybersecurity?
- Implement a company-wide robust remote work policy
The foundation of a secure remote work environment is a well-defined remote work policy. The policy must outline the expectations, guidelines, and security protocols that remote workers must comply with when working remotely. It must cover aspects like device security, password management, acceptable use of corporate resources, and data handling.
- Adopt the use of VPNs
VPNs or virtual private networks encrypt the data transmitted between the corporate network and a remote worker’s device. Thanks to the encryption, the data is protected even if remote workers are using unsecured public Wi-Fi. When choosing a VPN service, it is essential that employers and employees select a reputable VPN provider. The VPN service must boast strong encryption protocols.
- Follow safe browsing practices
Remote workers must follow safe browsing practices to avoid data breaches. You must not click on suspicious-looking links or access corporate networks when connected to public Wi-Fi networks. If you are working on the go, you must always use a VPN to encrypt and protect corporate data. Also, you must not visit any website that doesn’t come with the HTTPS protocol.
Additionally, remote workers must adopt the use of secure browsers like Tor. Tor is a safe browser known for its strong security and privacy features. The browser can add an extra layer of protection when working remotely as it routes Internet traffic via a network of volunteer-operated servers. Hence, the browser makes it difficult for anyone to track the activity of the users. However, the Tor network may face security issues, and for your peace of mind, you must use a VPN for Tor.
- MFA or multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication is an added layer of protection when logging into accounts. MFA demands two or more forms of verification’s from users. Hence, it makes it a challenge for unauthorized personnel trying to access your accounts.
- Endpoint security
It is essential to ensure device security. Remote workers must ensure their devices are equipped with the latest security software, including anti-malware solutions and antivirus software. Also, the operating system must be updated regularly.
- Security training
Companies can provide security training to their remote workers to keep them aware of the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices.
- Use of secure collaboration and document-sharing tools
The use of safe tools that allow controlled sharing of data and documents is essential to avoid data leaks and breaches.
- Security updates and audits
Companies and employees must conduct security audits regularly. This will help in the identification of vulnerabilities and also analyze the effectiveness of the security measures. If there are vulnerabilities, work together to come up with improved cybersecurity measures.
- Incident response plan
If cybersecurity incidents happen, you must have a response plan to tackle the problem immediately and reduce damages. The plan may include steps for reporting and containing incidents.
The Bottom Line
Remote working has changed the way people work and for the better. Professionals are able to land their dream job, regardless of which part of the world they reside in. However, remote working comes with its share of cybersecurity challenges that must be addressed by the employer and employees.
Follow the steps mentioned above to overcome cybersecurity challenges and protect sensitive business data. Also, you must consistently update yourself on the new cybersecurity risks so you can take steps to address them. And, remember to always use a VPN when working on the go.
Are you working remotely? Do you have any pointers to share? Leave a comment.