IT security basics for remote working

Man working remotely

Remote working has indeed extended beyond the pandemic as many companies discover the benefits of retaining off-premises teams. Team collaboration happens in the cloud, and remote workers combine using company-issued devices and personal ones. As more companies embrace both remote and flexible ways of working, it pays to be aware of the security risks this unique situation uncovers.

Top IT tips for remote working

Here are a few IT security basics all companies with remote workers should ensure are in place:

Remote workers must use a VPN

Home networks are wildly unsecured, leaving your employees open to malicious ransomware attacks and other threats. The best way to secure home networks is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN ensures your network is fully encrypted, safeguarding your device and its data from any potential hackers.

The information on the VPN is stored and accessed in the cloud and protects even the most unsecured networks. Overall, a VPN offers better performance, robust security, and greater reliability. This means you can use typically unsecured home or public Wi-Fi, such as in a café, without the risk of your data being exposed.

Install regular updates

Ensure employees don’t ignore pop-ups asking to update their software or operating system. These updates offer important patches and other security measures to help reduce device vulnerabilities. PCs will automatically install regular updates these days, but your employees can still choose to ignore them. Advise employees to schedule their updates for overnight or when there’s no interruption to work.

Use strong, single use passwords

Everyone knows someone who uses “12345” as their password for everything. This puts them at high risk because just one inadvertent leak of that password can cause chaos. Weak passwords endanger not only all their own accounts and systems, but your organisation’s critical data they store.

Consider requiring two-factor authentication which sends a one-off code through email, text, or an app every time employees log in to your systems. Password managers are also useful tools for remote working and reduce the stress of remembering countless long and complex passwords. Using these shared encrypted passwords means your team can simultaneously and remotely access platforms for collaborative projects.

Enable automatic device locking on remote devices

If your remote employees choose to work from a café or have flatmates, it’s important that they lock their devices to prevent unauthorised access. Automatic locking secures the device until your employee enters the password to unlock it. Consider requiring employees to enable their devices to automatically lock 30 seconds to one minute after they step away.

Limit the use of personal devices for remote workers

Since you can’t control an employee’s personal device, encourage them to use only company-managed devices. However, some companies only assign a laptop to each employee, so they might need other equipment to carry out their tasks.

Restricting the use of personal devices reduces the number of avenues for attack. It is important that you know exactly where your business’ sensitive information is stored. So, perhaps limit your remote workers’ use of personal devices to a mobile phone or tablet. And ensure all company-owned and personal devices have up-to-date antivirus and firewall software.

Invest in backup solutions

Make sure to back up all your critical systems, and check that all backups are done correctly, so your data remains safe. You should create multiple backup options such as a cloud-based platform or with a data centre or other carrier. For the best data security, you will need backups that are stored off-site in a few locations. Creating encryption keys for access can also add an extra layer of protection to your backup solutions.

Train your remote workers on cybersecurity

Make sure everyone knows how to identify and avoid phishing scams. Look out for emails that seem authentic and senders which claim they are from legitimate organisations. Many remote workers will automatically respond or click on links, leading to viruses and other harmful malware being downloaded onto their devices, often without their knowledge. Sensitive data can then be extracted and exploited by hackers for their own financial gain.

Training will help your employees identify scam or phishing emails. Make it a company policy to never divulge sensitive account numbers, passwords, or other identifying information through email. Also, don’t forget to regularly train your remote workers about new cybersecurity issues as they arise. Distribute cyber policies, rules, and emergency contact people as often as possible.

Seek outsourced IT solutions

Some small to medium sized companies don’t have the IT staff to ensure cybersecurity measures cover all remote workers. It’s the downfall of many small companies to think hackers only target large corporations. To keep your business safe in today’s remote working environment, it pays to partner with a team of cybersecurity experts to handle your infrastructure.

The cybersecurity experts at totality services have the experience and the expertise to keep your business and data safe. The sooner you roll out a comprehensive cybersecurity plan, the sooner you can have total peace of mind knowing your business, employees, and especially your customers’ data are safe.

Contact our team for any further guidance, or if you would like to kickstart the process, simply book your free consultation.