18 Cybersecurity Tips for Secure Remote Work
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit and restrictions took effect, you probably had very little time to adapt to remote work. Several months down the line, have you taken the appropriate measures to ensure efficient, secure remote work for your distributed team?
Here are 18 safety tips to protect your remote workplace against online threats.
- Simplify Your Remote Setup: As your team moves out of the office to a remote setting, they’ll need to set up devices and connect to crucial services like email and internal business apps without IT support. To make their lives easier, you need to find products that offer Self Service portals. Alternatively, they could take a photograph and refer to it when setting up their home offices.
- Update and Install Patches to Keep Your Network Secure: It’s no secret that performing updates and installing patches can be a tedious task. Heaven, you need to ensure all your operating systems devices and software applications are updated to the latest versions. We recommend doing this overnight to avoid losing valuable work time. That’s because far too often, malware breaches could have been easily prevented with patches or updates.
- Encrypt Everything You Possibly Can: Another prominent vulnerability is unencrypted devices and communications. However, remember that most devices come with native encryption tools, for instance, BitLocker and communication tools such as WhatsApp provide end-to-end encryption. You should always use this along with specialized encrypted email providers.
- Create a Secure VPN Connection: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) ensures all the data transmitted between your staff members’ home offices and your organization’s network is encrypted and secured during transmission. You’ll have to use VPN that’s fast, accessible, and reliable, particularly when performing bandwidth-hungry tasks, for example, holding a video conference call or moving massive volumes of data.
- Prevent Phishing Scams by Scanning and Securing Email: Migrating to a remote work model has several inherent vulnerabilities, and no one is more aware of this than the growing army of cybercriminals. Phishing scams have already spiked as workmates can no longer speak in person and have to rely heavily on services like email. You need to update your email protection and educate your staff members on fishing. For instance, when an employee has even a hint of suspicion, they should avoid clicking on, opening, or downloading anything without an IT guy on hand. Beyond the typical phishing email, you also need to look out for phishing for a voicemail (vishing) and text messages (smishing). These are also techniques employed by bad actors to steal private information or gain access to your network.
- Enable Web Filtering: You need to apply rules for web filtering on your devices to ensure your staff members can only access the necessary work-related sites. At the same time, this will keep children protected from malicious content.
- Back-Up Your Files and Applications In the Cloud: There are endless ways in which valuable data can be compromised or lost. For example, through human error, physical damage, ransomware, or some other type of malware attack that can encrypt or wipe out your whole system. Cloud storage allows your remote team easy access to the data should the devices fail. It’s also highly flexible and customizable.
- Control the Use Of Peripherals Such as Mobile Devices and Removable Storage: As your employees work from home, there’s a good chance they might connect insecure mobile devices to your organization’s network. You need to implement device control to prevent cyber threats from getting in via mobile devices or external drives. Be prepared to locate and wipe or lock technology if necessary.
- Lock Devices: It’s not uncommon for remote employees to work in public spaces like coffee shops from time to time. Or they may simply wish to secure their private information while at home. In either case, password or passcode locking is vital to ensuring the data isn’t read or stolen as the content is encrypted until the correct password or passcode is entered.
- Prohibit “Shadow IT” Solutions: Because your remote team members may not be able to access professional IT support easily, there is a likelihood that some may try to address issues without your IT department’s approval. Also called “shadow IT,” non-professional tech support is obviously highly problematic and will compromise your cybersecurity.
- Ensure Your Employees Secure Their Home Routers: Your remote workers need to change their router passwords from the initial ones when they were installed. To patch up any security vulnerabilities, they also have to install all firmware updates, set their routers’ encryption to WPA2 or WPA3, and switch off WPS.
- Establish and Implement Password Best Practices: Passwords must be complex and unique for each account and must not be shared under any circumstances. Consider investing in a password manager to help everyone securely store their passwords and generate robust ones.
- Implement Two-Factor Authentication: Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra step to provide an extra layer of protection. 2FA ensures only your staff access the apps, devices, and systems they need.
- Install Firewalls: A robust firewall is a useful primary defense line between potentially harmful external networks and your organization. It prevents your data from leaking out and stops malicious programs from entering your devices. Ensure firewalls are enabled on your network devices.
- Install Antivirus Software: In case a threat breaches your firewalls, you need to invest in effective antivirus software as a secondary defense.
- Be Cautious With Remote Desktop Tools: While Remote Desktop Protocols (RDPs) may provide ease of access to your business network, there are some security concerns with certain tools. Ensure you select your RDP cautiously.
- Work-From-Home Scams: These have reached an all-time high during the ongoing pandemic. Apart from an increase in targeted phishing attacks, the Coronavirus crisis has seen a spike in other work-from-home schemes. These usually require an upfront payment or private data to get started and are often very well-disguised. You need to train your team on how to identify and deal with these threats.
- Resources and Reporting: Your remote team needs efficient, user-friendly resources, for example, a central point to report security breaches or suspicious activities, receive answers to questions, or solutions for issues.
Our cybersecurity experts at initial.IT are eager to help you create a safe, efficient remote workplace during these challenging times and beyond. Contact us now to schedule your initial consultation!
President and CEO of Initial.IT,inc. A computer network consulting firm in Denver providing outsourced IT support and Managed Services for a multitude of industries. Initial.IT has extensive and unique experience supporting clients in the Architectural, Engineering and Construction Industry. We are a Microsoft Certified Partner and employ Microsoft Certified Professionals.