Remote working is here to stay. While working from home wasn’t a new concept when COVID-19 hit, the shift to a nearly universal remote workforce is unprecedented. Organizational security has always been a priority for business leaders and managers, and now, as some offices start reopening and employees have the option to work remotely or from the office, maintaining security has never been more complex.
With black hat hackers becoming more sophisticated and leveraging the increase in remote working for malicious purposes, new strategies and an increased focus on security best practices is key to keeping a business secure. How can business leaders ensure security is prioritized across their organization?
Add layers of security for data protection
Security is a shared responsibility. Business and IT leaders must provide employees with effective training and education to detect (and avoid) phishing attempts and other suspicious and malicious activity. Beyond employee training, incorporating additional layers of security – such as end-to-end encryption, a VPN, a password manager, and multi-factor authentication – is important to defend against compromised accounts or passwords and avoiding data breaches and ransomware attacks.
Maintaining organizational security
On top of implementing additional layers of security, consider taking this a step further and incorporating security software solutions to help monitor and manage security.
Adopt security tools: An IT team will benefit from implementing security tools and solutions, such as a security information and event management (SIEM) tool that identifies anomalous behavior, flags issues in real-time and can help mitigate and protect against potentially devastating incidents. Added support from security software can equip your IT team with the tools necessary to maintain security in this increasingly complex business and security environment.
Consider outsourcing: Depending on your organizational needs and available resources, outsourcing might be a strategic option. For example, companies without an IT department or dedicated security team may benefit from working with a trusted partner company. Outsourcing security to a company that keeps servers up-to-date, uses an encrypted network, and constantly monitors for security breaches and problems is key to ensuring data is protected and overall security is upheld.
Develop a robust crisis management plan
Having a business continuity and disaster management plan in place before a crisis hits is key. When security is addressed on a reactive versus proactive basis, the negative impact of the crisis is much more significant. Proactive security measures should be a businesses’ top priority. Establishing a strategic disaster recovery plan requires considering the challenges business leaders face and the resources at their fingertips, and ultimately creates a template for recovery and future success.
Any strategic cybersecurity plan must include employee communication and training. Without the education and training necessary to identify and avoid attacks, employees can pose the greatest risk to their organization. Best practices for remote working and BYOD are more important than ever. For example, without education and proper security measures in place, employees connecting to a home Wi-Fi network with a work computer or phone can jeopardize an organization’s overall security. Without end-user education, employees will not know that devices on their home network – such as family laptops, tablets, gaming systems, or other “smart” appliances – are never tested or patched and can enable hackers and malware to identify and exploit gaps.
Employees without roles on the security team are probably unaware that their actions while working from home impact network security. It is therefore the responsibility of security and business leaders to ensure employees are educated on security risks, their responsibilities in avoiding attacks, and the potential consequences of not prioritizing security.
Leverage the cloud
Since the pandemic hit, cloud platforms have become essential in enabling businesses to keep running as usual (or at least as usual as possible during this challenging time). For example, file-sharing via a cloud platform and storing company data streamlines work and business operations, helping security teams to more efficiently enable secure remote access.
A public or private cloud platform can also be used as part of the 3-2-1 data backup strategy. This strategy includes having three copies of data (production data and two backup copies) on two different media with one copy offsite for disaster recovery. This is also a key component of an effective crisis management plan: ensuring your data is protected and backed up to avoid cybersecurity issues like ransomware attacks, which are unfortunately becoming more frequent and increasingly destructive.
Promoting security in the new working world
Patrolling the cybersecurity perimeter and establishing a secure remote workforce for successful long-term working outside the four walls of an organization is a tall order. Following a few key best practices can significantly increase business and IT leaders’ ability to promote security across their organization.
As the first line of defense against many cybersecurity issues, business leaders must train employees on best practices for good cyber hygiene. Implementing additional layers of security and working with a trusted partner company can make an organization more secure at its very core. Additionally, moving workstreams and file-sharing over to cloud platforms can not only streamline remote working, but also more efficiently enable secure remote access.
It’s unlikely that the physical four walls of a business will ever house all of the organization’s employees ever again, so now is the time to set up the tools and processes necessary to develop a secure remote work infrastructure.