Triggered by the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown, the abrupt transition to remote working has forced businesses to scramble to support a larger remote workforce. Such a quick shift has meant that certain security measures and requirements fell by the wayside. At the same time, cybercriminals found a new opportunity for attack with remote workers and improperly secure connections and technologies. These trends have created a more vulnerable environment affecting the cybersecurity defences of many businesses.
While most workers are used to working at the office under carefully crafted IT systems, it’s impossible to quantify the number of permutations of home internet setups. Where one household could have a simple solution that works for their family, another household could have a virtual private network (VPN) subscription in place to mask their internet usage from prying eyes.
Necessary steps to secure businesses data when working from home
While the consequences of poorly securing data and devices while remote working can have severe impacts on businesses and customers, there are certain steps that can be taken to ensure the worst doesn’t occur. First measures include guiding employees to:
- Use a VPN (virtual private network), as these provide a flexible connection to services and can protect online traffic
- Avoid public Wi-Fi; if necessary, use personal hotspots or some way to encrypt the web connection
- Keep work data on work devices
- Make sure you are in a spot that allows some level of privacy even when working at a coffee shop or other public venue. This way they can protect the screen from strangers’ peeks
- Consider implementing an encryption program on work devices to encrypt data and prevent an unintended recipient from viewing the information
The steps above will provide a safer online experience and can be enhanced with some extra measures to provide an additional layer of protection, such as:
- Ensure network security is updated
This should be done on a regular basis to ensure devices are completely updated with the most recent security patches and upgrades. Things like operating system, antivirus and routers are just some of the things that should immediately shore up and protect as those are generally the first and last defence against external threats.
- Enable multifactor authentication
Humans have been codebreaking for a s long as we’ve been making codes, so it only makes sense that there are programs available that can crack most passwords in a matter of seconds. Whilst practicing good password etiquette is a standard, two-factor authentication adds an additional layer of protection requiring an additional action beyond entering a password.
Whilst above steps can be actioned by the individual worker, businesses should enact policies and take measures to further solidify their remote employees’ defences.
- Set up remote access
It may be difficult to do this without the physical devices being made available to the IT department, but businesses should do everything they can to establish remote access protocols. Having a direct line with the IT security team can help guide workers with all kinds of technology expertise to have a safe connection.
- Education to avoid phishing emails
There are scammers using the COVID-19 crisis as a smokescreen for their nefarious attempts at businesses sensitive data through phishing emails. These may look like a great offer, an amazing deal or even an important message from the boss, but in every instance, the link within must never be clicked. These links typically lead to a required download that installs malware onto the system, immediately compromising it in the process.
Keeping employees informed about these threats is crucial. Dedicated meetings or even a simple newsletter are good ways to instruct the team to always be on the lookout for strange email addresses, poor grammar and generic greetings that don’t match the personality of the individual sending the email.
- Reinforce confidentiality
The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted a lot of lives, and with people working near their families, things can get hectic. Now is an important time to remind employees that while remote working, they must maintain the same level of professionalism when it comes to secure and sensitive data as they do in the office. That includes reminding people that personal email is not to be used in an official capacity and that any physical documents kept at home must either be disposed of properly with a shredder or set aside to be shredded later.
- Update emergency contacts
If employees can’t be reached via email, be it from a widespread power outage or if the company becomes the target of a cyberattack, having another way to reach employees is paramount. This can be as easy as compiling a phone number list or setting up a secure way to message top personnel that circumvents any digital intrusion.
How Wontok can help
Now is the time to ensure all facets of the business are secure in remote working environments by implementing a cybersecurity solution that protects data, devices and emails anywhere they are used and in any network.
Wontok partners with service providers to bring leading cybersecurity offerings that are robust, flexible, and easily deployable to ensure protection for networks, data and employees – wherever and however they are connected, via our Wontok One platform