As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more businesses are opting for a complete work from home model or a hybrid model where employees work from home several days per week. This isn’t a small trend, either. Some of the biggest companies in the world have made working from home an option for all employees. In addition, employees seem to prefer working from home, with over 25% saying they want to work from home permanently and nearly 50% wanting to work from home part time.
This presents a unique challenge for employers. One on hand, businesses want to ensure the happiness of their employees. Forcing people to come back to the office full time could lead to high turnover rates. But, on the other hand, having a distributed workforce presents a number of challenges. Perhaps the most significant challenge is ensuring cybersecurity of company networks and devices. With that said, there are a number of elements businesses can consider to improve remote cybersecurity as employees adopt new remote working habits.
Complete a Threat Assessment
Perhaps the most important initial step to ensuring remote cybersecurity is completing a threat assessment. This type of assessment takes stock of everything that could be at risk in the event of a cyberattack. This can include identifying sensitive customer data, completing a full inventory of hardware devices like laptops and smartphones, then identifying the unique risks posed to each.
While it may seem obvious that everything needs to be protected, a threat assessment drills down deeper to discover how data and devices are managed, who uses them, and how each individual piece of data or device could be compromised. It’s an essential first step to creating a complete security plan.
Focus on Employee Education
When many people think of cybercriminals, they think of computer geniuses holed up in a dark room frantically typing away to gain access to a computer or network as lines of code scroll across their monitor. Movies have helped to perpetuate this stereotype. The reality is that cybercriminals don’t often need to break down the digital door to get in; someone within the business almost always lets them in unwittingly.
This is often done through the use of phishing. Hackers will send a convincing email to an employee in order to convince them to do something that they shouldn’t. This could include providing usernames and passwords through a fake login page or downloading malware disguised as a new program or embedded into commonly used file types (spreadsheets, PDFs, etc.). Employees are the final line of defense when a malicious email gets through spam filters. They must be able to recognize potential cyberattacks, avoid them, and notify IT professionals who can take further protection steps.
With a comprehensive employee education program, cybercriminals will be less likely to gain access to devices, networks, and sensitive data.
Implement Endpoint Protection
If employee education is meant to be the last line of defense, then endpoint protection is the front line. This is the process by which each individual endpoint is secured and monitored for potential risks. Endpoints are end-user devices that are commonly the first point of contact for cybercriminals. These could include smartphones, laptops, desktops, and even network-connected printers.
Endpoint protection is often referred to as antivirus software, but modern software protection solutions do so much more than antivirus protection. They are designed to detect potential threats in all forms before they can compromise an endpoint and potentially infect an entire network. This could include blocking phishing attempts or notifying users of suspicious activity. With leading endpoint protection solutions implemented, the network at large is safer from cyberattacks.
Utilize Identification and Security Tools
Even if best efforts are made, passwords can still be compromised. However, these compromised passwords may be useless if the right security and identification tools are used. Two-factor authentication is a very effective way to add an additional layer of security to the traditional username and password login scheme. When a user attempts to log in, they are prompted to enter a security code provided through an authentication app, typically through a mobile app or delivered via text message or email.
Use of a VPN (virtual private network) can also prevent unauthorized access to network information as well as protect data being transferred over a network. A VPN uses remote servers to process requests and can encrypt information being sent so that someone snooping on data traffic would be unable to intercept sensitive data. This is especially useful for employees working outside the office and potentially accessing public networks.
A Total Security Solution
There are a number of pieces to the security puzzle. Putting them all together is what makes for robust remote cybersecurity. To learn more, contact the cybersecurity experts at CDS Office Technologies today.