Telecommuting, or more popularly known as working from home, offers multiple benefits to employers. One, they don’t need to have huge office spaces to accommodate employees. Two, a business can operate with a more flexible schedule. And three, it gives employees more freedom and makes them more likely to stay in the company, which lowers the employee turnover rate.
As more businesses are now adapting this setup, malicious individuals and organizations have already started considering ways on how to profit from it. Because of that, as a business, it’s become more crucial to also adopt newer and better ways to counter cybersecurity threats like data theft.
Fortunately, having strong and well-equipped IT security teams and remote workers can help reduce the risks that come with telecommuting. However, it’s not enough. For you to further strengthen your data security when you start letting employees work from home, follow the steps below.
1.Set Up A Cybersecurity Policy
The first step in protecting your company against cyber-attacks is to make sure that all your employees know and understand that data security is a priority. Some employees today are still unaware of why data security is important and why they should be concerned—professionally and personally.
Commonly, employees assume that they shouldn’t worry about data security. They might be thinking it’s not a part of their job or their role in the company doesn’t involve collecting, processing, or accessing data. And thus, it becomes a challenge for a company.
Since that’s commonly the case, you can’t assume that your employees know anything about cybersecurity and their role in it. And that leads to you bearing the responsibility of educating your employees about it.
To educate your employees, you need to set up and enforce a cybersecurity policy. Require all existing and new employees, working remotely or not, to read and sign the policy.
Your cybersecurity policy should indicate the reasoning behind the policy as well as details outlining the security protocols that employees must comply with. It should also inform the employees on how your company will help them comply—like providing training and security tools.
2. Hire Reliable And Reputable Data Protection Vendors
Corporate IT systems and databases are usually spread across local and third-party platforms. While it’s good practice, it also raises cybersecurity risks. Remember that the more locations and services you use, the more entries of attacks hackers and data thieves can use and exploit.
To mitigate such concerns, investing in a competent IT vendor for data protection solutions is necessary. Look for reliable providers that offer data backup and protection both on-premises and in the cloud. Make sure that they can add multiple layers of protection to your data to prevent attackers from starting a data breach.
3. Securing Internet Connections
An unsecured Wi-Fi network is one common way to expose your business to a hack or data security breach. You may think that your business got it covered since you have the best internet connection package for your workplace. Unfortunately, it’s not you or your office that’s vulnerable—it’s actually your workers.
As telecommuters, your employees’ schedules are flexible. They can work at home today. Then they can decide to work in a lovely coffee shop with free internet the next. As much as you want to make your cybersecurity policy as effective as you want, you can’t exactly forbid your employees on where they choose to work. Well, you can, but it’s up to you.
If you can’t, the best thing you can do is to, again, educate them about the risks of working in public. Make it a point that they should only connect to secure internet connections to keep your business and their data safe.
To further reduce their vulnerability to attacks, you can also require them to use virtual private networks or VPNs. Using a VPN before signing on to a public Wi-Fi network can help encrypt the internet traffic and prevent sniffers—people and applications that monitor data packets sent and received in a connection—from hijacking their connections.
Enforcing those simple prevention measures can give you peace of mind and your employees more freedom and flexibility in their work lives.
4. Use Strong Passwords And A Password Manager
Passwords have significant monetary value to cybercriminals. Do you know that they can sell a hacked database containing usernames and passwords for tens and thousands of dollars? That’s how valuable they are.
And before you worry about data breaches and stolen databases, you should start worrying about your passwords. Creating and using unique and secure passwords are your first lines of defense against data theft and hacking.
Unfortunately, most people don’t think about password safety. They often use the same password from program to program, device to device, and website to website. And just like before, you should also enforce policies and provide training sessions to force employees to use strong passwords.
Offering short training for password security can be a significant step in ensuring data protection. You can start with the basics on how to keep passwords strong and why they shouldn’t use the same password repeatedly.
In addition, consider using and providing a reliable password manager that randomly generates passwords for you and your employees. This way, no one in your company doesn’t have to struggle in remembering complex and secure passwords while ensuring your company tools, files, and systems will be safe.
5. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is one of the simplest and most effective methods for data security management as it adds another layer of security on top of usernames and passwords.
It works by confirming a user’s identity by requiring them to log in first with their credentials. After that, they will be asked for another unique piece of information like a one-time password (OTP) or personal identification number (PIN). Normally, they can receive these two through their phone or registered computer.
Two-factor authentication prevents hackers, who were able to steal usernames and passwords, to illegally access your business tools and systems. Unless they also stole you and your employees’ device required for the 2FA, they will fail.
Taking it further, you can even invest in multi-factor authentication. It’s basically adding more user verification methods like fingerprint, voice, face, or retina scan. Of course, it adds costs to your business. But if you highly value your company’s digital security, then it’s an investment worth spending. In addition to 2FA, you should consider tightening the access controls for tools that are used throughout your IT teams. Tools for data visualization may enable Kibana access control which is highly suitable for securing access to one of the leading open-source security reporting systems.
6. Take Advantage Of Encryption Software
Encryption software can help protect companies and remote workers from data breaches and theft. If an employee’s device is lost, the data on that device can become a security vulnerability. With encryption software, you can prevent unauthorized users of those devices from getting access to your systems.
In addition, organizations should ensure that any communication programs—messaging, voice communication, and teleconferencing apps—used within the company have end-to-end encryption. Encryption prevents anyone to intercept your conversations or files and documents you send and receive.
One can safely say that remote work is the future. Thus, your IT team needs to improve your digital security in ways that address common challenges and vulnerabilities that remote work can introduce in your company.
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