When the pandemic took hold, most companies were forced to turn their employees into a fully operational remote workforce within the span of one week. And while some businesses have begun the transition to bring their teams back to offices, many have decided to let their employees work from home permanently or for a fraction of the week.
Working from home comes with a slew of security concerns. Businesses planning to look at remote work as a long-term strategy should take the time to reassess any “band-aid” security solutions that may have been applied at the beginning of the pandemic and look at ways that security can be prioritized permanently.
Here are the top tactics businesses should keep in mind as they transition to a fully remote workplace:
1. Enable virtual private networks (VPNs) and create awareness around safe connections
The number one security risk for workplaces with a remote workforce is employees using a connection that’s not secure. In the early days of the pandemic, most employees were home-bound as stay-at-home orders were in place. Now, there is a higher likelihood that they could be opting to work remotely outside of their home and chose to log in from a cafe or other public Wi-Fi network. Public Wi-Fi poses a very high risk for malicious activity as hackers can easily take advantage of weak security to steal confidential information.
A company’s best defense in this situation is to enable a VPN and communicate to employees the importance of using safe connections. Out of 100 IT professionals we asked this year, 38% of respondents reported that a VPN solution was the most important aspect of their overall workplace security, but 21% reported that their VPN was the IT solution they were least satisfied with.
Not having a secure and usable VPN solution in place now will only cause more problems down the road.
2. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA)
While there’s no surefire way to keep hackers from trying to access a company’s sensitive information, you can make it harder for them to do so. MFA adds an extra layer of protection on top of passwords for users and for your business. While a password could be compromised at any time, enabling MFA adds additional steps to the authentication process to avoid any damage being inflicted because of a compromised password.
While this measure isn’t 100% foolproof, as with any security measure, it can go a long way in keeping everyone’s information and data safe.
3. Have a plan for mobile device management
When working remotely, sometimes it’s easier for employees to communicate using their personal cell phones. This is especially true for any workforce that needs its employees to be on the move or perform site visits.
If you have employees who need to use a mobile device for work, consider deploying a mobile application management or mobile device management solution. Both solutions can help govern business communications and systems used on the phone. These solutions can also be used to clear a phone of its contents if an employee leaves the company or if a device is stolen, ensuring that your data will be kept safe in the event of a worst-case scenario.
4. Ensure cloud backup is enabled
It’s very important for remote workplaces to ensure that they’re regularly backing up company data to the cloud. In the case of a data breach or ransomware attack, data can be locked down without you being able to access it, causing you to lose data on your email, content management system (CMS) platforms or any number of important servers housing sensitive information.
A cloud backup solution makes it easy to automatically back up data and recover it from another system at any point in time. Backing up to the cloud also ensures that your information is kept safe in the unlikely event that a disgruntled employee may try to leak or delete important company data.
Even with such high stakes, it seems that most companies don’t have a plan in place for properly backing up and recovering data, even though a data loss event could have a moderate to major impact on their business.
If you’re among the many who are unsure whether their data would be safe in an event like this, it’s time to look into a cloud backup solution that will protect you.
5. Install an email filtering and encryption solution
According to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations report, 96% of malware is delivered via email. Especially in a remote setting, it’s important to make sure that your employees have the highest level of protection against malware and phishing attacks.
The best way to do this is to remove human error as much as possible by automating threat protection. Installing the right solution will make it so that malware or phishing attempts are automatically detected and thus prevented from being delivered to the user’s inbox in the first place.
It’s also important to ensure sensitive data is protected when it’s sent via email. Whether that data is protected by industry regulations, government laws or adhering to specific company policies about internal IP data leakage, data loss prevention is important. Think of email encryption as wrapping your email message in a secure envelope, rather than sending it as a postcard.
In a recent SMB survey, a staggering 70% of respondents reported that email protection filtering was the most important aspect of their overall workplace security. Even with such a large threat being posed by malware via email, 25% of those same respondents also reported that they’re not satisfied with the solution they have deployed.
If you count yourself among the end users without sufficient email filtering and encryption, make sure you prioritize putting a solution in place that will give you the security you need.
Remote workplace security requires a team effort
While there are many solutions you can implement to keep your employees compliant and your data safe, it’s also important to note that security is not a one-person job.
IT solutions go a long way in preventing security breaches and keeping your data safe if one does occur, but keeping things secure also requires the effort of your employees to stick to the tools and processes you’ve put in place.
Make sure you communicate the measures you’re taking to build a secure remote workplace, as well as the measures employees need to take to keep it that way.