Are your employees protected from cyber threats when they work from home?

By the middle of March, 67 percent of employers surveyed were taking steps to help employees work from home who did not previously work remotely. Because of the spread of COVID-19, employees across the world are being told to work from home. While telecommuting will help stem the spread of the coronavirus, it also carries potential risks for your company’s security.

When employees work from home, they generally use their own internet and devices. Threats like phishing emails pose security risks. If an employee falls for a phishing email, it can lead to a security breach involving your company’s files. Phishing emails are just one form of Business Email Comprise (BEC) but there are numerous other threats out there that may slip through the cracks.

While you may need remote access to keep your business running, you cannot afford to risk financial data and proprietary information. By following a few best practices, you can keep your business safe. The following steps are Interwork Technologies’ best tips for keeping your employees and your business secure during this time.

Have a Clear and Concise Work-From-Home Policy

When you enable remote worker access, you face a variety of risks. It is much harder to ensure the physical security of a cafe or home office. In addition, your company cannot control the network’s security because friends, strangers and family members may use the home or public network.

Some of the problems you face involve the remote worker instead of the work environment. Your workers have to understand best practices for information security and their responsibilities in upholding these practices. To achieve these objectives, you have to train your workers and have a clear, concise policy for working from home. By having a work-from-home policy, you can ensure a safe remote workplace for your company.

The policies you choose will depend on the industry and your unique business requirements. In general, you will want to have a policy involving multi-factor authentication for work accounts. While this is a simple policy to put in place, it is one of the most effective ways to prevent common security breaches. Through multi-factor authentication, you can protect your employees’ work accounts from cybercriminals.

Training takes time, and people naturally miss key details when they have to rush through training because of a crisis. To make sure your remote workers are fully trained, you should create a cybersecurity checklist. This checklist should include all of the actions your workers should take to keep information secure.

Even with the best policies, a security breach can still happen. When a security incident occurs, you need to have a policy in place for reporting it. If employees are able to report security breaches and incidents right away, it will help you mitigate the potential damage.

Employee Training and Best Practices

Employee Training and Best Practices
Creating a work-from-home policy is an essential task you need to do to protect your workplace, but it is only the first step in a comprehensive process. Your policy is only useful if people know about it. You need to provide your workers with extensive training sessions on cybersecurity risks. Through your training programs, your employees will learn about what they have to do to create a secure environment at home.

An estimated 77 percent of office workers have reported receiving some type of phishing email while they were at work. Unfortunately, 61 percent of office workers would open the phishing email if it seemed like it was from their boss. When the context seems familiar and safe, workers are more likely to open up potentially dangerous emails.

The only way to solve this problem is through employee training programs. You have to train your employees on how to look for phishing threats and what to do about them. If you can maintain a secure work environment successfully, you can protect your company’s data.

Cybersecurity Awareness training programs are available for organizations and employees. This program includes an interactive simulation for phishing emails. Through the training program, employees are able to learn about cyber threats and how they can protect themselves. Since cyber threats are constantly changing, continuous training options can help your business stay updated on all of the latest threats.

Some companies only train employees on security awareness once a year. Security information can quickly become outdated, so it is important to train your employees on new threats as they develop. To do this, you may want to give your employees monthly or quarterly training sessions.

If you need help getting started with your employees’ training program, the following tips represent some of the best security practices for remote workers.

  • Set up anti-virus software.
  • Lock devices when they are not in use.
  • Choose a strong password.
  • Avoid scams and phishing emails.
  • Back up your data.
  • Get a secure home router.
  • Use multi-factor authentication.
  • Install updates as soon as they are available.
  • Encrypt your communications.

Protect Your Data with the Right Tools

If you want your remote workers to be secure, you have to give them the right tools. Virtual private network (VPN) software, firewalls and anti-virus software can help you protect your company’s data. The tools you use will depend on your industry and the employee’s unique role.

  • Use a VPN: A VPN is an excellent tool for ensuring online privacy. This software works by encrypting all of the data that flows through your private network. By encrypting your data, you make it harder for cybercriminals to steal your information. This option is ideal for public networks like cafes and shared workplaces. It can also help you protect home networks that are shared with friends, visitors and family members.

  • Implement a firewall: A firewall is a virtual barrier that keeps viruses and cybercriminals out of your network. Some systems come with a built-in firewall that you can turn on. Once your firewall is in place, it can prevent malicious requests from harming your devices.

  • Install anti-virus or anti-malware software: This is a basic way to protect your data from cyber threats like computer viruses, phishing attacks, malicious URLs and ransomware.

  • Conduct a risk assessment: You cannot discover a problem if you do not look for it. With assessment services, you can gain insight into your company’s vulnerabilities and then determine what type of cybersecurity software is right for your business.

Limit Who Has Access to the Most Valuable Data

If people do not have access to sensitive data, a cybercriminal cannot steal the data from them. Instead of giving every employee access to your company’s sensitive information, limit access to certain workers. A marketing manager probably does not need access to your accounting records, like your financial managers and accountants do.

One of the best ways to protect your information is by giving different employees access based on their roles. You can determine different levels of security and access for all of your remote workers. By keeping important information on a need-to-know basis, you can limit your company’s exposure to risk. When you limit how many people have access to your data, you can effectively reduce the pathways cybercriminals can use to access it.

Back Up Your Data

Almost 90 percent of companies back up their data, but they are not doing it often enough. Only 15 percent of workplaces back up their data multiple times a day. Plus, only 41 percent of companies back up their data on a daily basis. Around the world, an estimated 68 percent of users lose data because of technical failures, an out-of-date backup or an unintentional deletion.

If your company becomes the victim of a ransomware breach, you will need to restore your original information and files from a data backup. Otherwise, you will be unable to replace your data. While you should take steps to prevent a breach from happening, you also need contingency plans for getting your operations running again with a backup system.

With a remote workforce, the risk of a security breach is higher. Remote workers may forget to update their anti-virus software, or they may use outdated devices. Because your security risks are higher, you need to back up information more often when you use remote workers. You may need to back up your data once or more per day.

Backing up your data helps you bounce back after a security breach. For your business to be resilient, it needs contingency plans and backups in place. With the right tools, you can prepare your company for any attack. To back up your company’s data, you should look for a secure, third-party company that specializes in data storage. This type of company will be able to store copies of your files so that your company can immediately return to normal after a data breach.

In Conclusion

Unfortunately, cybercriminals will always look for new security weaknesses to take advantage of. As more companies enable remote workplace access, cybercriminals are adjusting to this change and searching for new windows of opportunity. Once they find a weakness, they will attack the vulnerable business.

Thankfully, you can protect your company from cybercriminals through the right security tips. For your business to be truly secure, you cannot follow just a single tip. You need multiple defenses and barriers to protect your data from cybercriminals. If you are looking for ways to protect your remote workers, we can help.

Consult with our cyber security experts today to learn about how you can protect your company's important data

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