Even before the pandemic, Remote work has been practiced by some organizations. However, it was only in 2020 that remote work gained more attention. The pandemic has caused companies to change the way they run their business. Although vaccines are being administered to millions of people, work from home will still be practiced by most companies.
There are plenty of advantages that businesses gain hiring remote employees. Vice versa, remote workers also enjoy the perks of working away from the office. However, when it comes to working from home data safety and monitoring of employees are two of the issues encountered by employers.
Cybercrime is a lucrative industry. Each year, it has a 15% growth that could reach trillions in 2025. Cybercrime can be an economy of its own. Compared to other countries, it has the third greatest economy, standing behind China and the US.
Various cyberattacks occurred in the past year. Ransomware, one of the most popular forms of malware attack, increased to nearly 500% in 2020. Even the cost of ransom payment has increased to 43% by the end of 2020.
Part of the sudden increase in cybercrime is due to the shift of infrastructure. Businesses have their own IT team managing the security of their business. However, once employees moved from an office workspace to working from home, things changed. Therefore, cybercriminals were given a chance to attack as many businesses as they can.
However, employers who shifted their business should need not worry. Working remotely doesn’t mean that your company’s data is unsafe all the time. In fact, there are practices or ways you can secure your company’s data.
Cybersecurity checklist for remote work
Work from home cybersecurity practices is different than that of an office setting. Of course, office cybersecurity practices include more sophisticated infrastructure to keep data safe.
Create strong passwords
Almost all accounts from email to website access require a username and a Password. It keeps data safe from unauthorized individuals. However, cybercriminals are fond of guessing passwords to access an account. Particularly if the account doesn’t limit the number of times an individual can input a wrong password.
Therefore, every remote employee must create a strong password.
A strong password increases the level of protection, and it blocks unauthorized individuals from gaining access to your company’s data.
- Do not use common words or passwords such as 12345, QWERTY, mypassword, and more.
- Combine different letter cases, numbers, and symbols. For example, Hgyat56$hdaUHF83&.
- Make sure passwords are longer than eight characters.
- Different passwords must be created for different accounts, do not make it a habit to use a single password.
- Make sure you don’t recycle previous passwords.
The more complicated your password is, the safer your accounts are. But are you worried about remembering them? Don’t worry. Using a password manager will do the thing, which we will discuss next.
Install a password manager
Strong passwords can be beneficial to every company. The more complicated it is, the better. However, complicated passwords are hard for employees to remember.
Luckily, password managers come to the rescue. Password managers are applications that can store limited to an unlimited amount of passwords, PINs, codes, and even credit and debits card numbers. The user only has to remember one master password to access all the passwords stored.
Password managers can autofill accounts, generate passwords, and are secured with military-grade encryption technology.
- Dashlane: Comes with the most outstanding features
- LastPass: Best free password manager
- Keeper: Best for businesses
- 1Password: Can support multiple platforms
Don’t ignore updates
We all dread that pop-up on the side of our screen requesting an update. We often hit the later button or skip it. However, updates are essential to keep business data safe.
Systems and applications request updates on their apps to patch security flaws, get rid of bugs, and even add new features.
Inform employees to update any software they are using and even the device they use to access company data.
They can schedule the update, so they don’t have to be interrupted during working hours.
Out-of-date software or system can be a gateway for hackers to gain access to your company’s data. When a remote employee ignores to update their OS, hackers will find the unpatched code and use it to insert bugs to spy on valuable data.
Use a VPN
Virtual Private Network or VPN is a technology used to create private network and anonymity when connecting to public Wi-Fi.
It is vital to inform remote workers to use a VPN every time they access company data. VPN creates a tunnel that allows the employer and the remote employees to send information and view data safely. It encrypts sensitive data from hackers or prying eyes.
So, make sure that your employees’ VPN is turned on.
There are different VPN names in the market that you can use for your business. Larger enterprises can use VPN that can manage multiple employees. Meanwhile, small businesses with a few employees can use VPN made for home or personal use.
Install an antivirus software
Antivirus software is a crucial tool whether you’re running a business or for personal use. It secures devices and data, detects incoming threats, sends alerts, protects emails, blocks unauthorized individuals, and more.
Including antivirus software on your cybersecurity checklist for remote work can keep your employees and business safe from threats.
- Bitdefender Total Security
- Kaspersky Endpoint Security
- McAfee Total Protection
- Norton Small Business
Create remote work policy
Whether you run a small business or large company, creating a separate remote work policy for your team can help maintain security and risk management.
- Remote access control
- Backup storage
- Data disposal
- Data protection
- Compliance requirements
- Cybersecurity incident response
Manage mobile devices
Remote employees use their devices to complete their tasks. Unless the company provides a computer for the employees, remote workers must learn to keep it safe.
The same goes for mobile devices. Make sure that employees know how to handle company data when using their devices. They should encrypt the data, avoid clicking on links, or should not download from untrusted sources.
As much as possible, remote employees should not use their personal mobile devices for work.
Educate about phishing scams
Earlier this year, Google has registered over 2 million phishing websites, which is a 27% increase over last year’s record. Therefore, it is crucial to educate your employees about phishing scams.
Phishing is an online cyberattack that impersonates a legitimate person, website or organization to steal sensitive information. It can be in the form of text, email, or advertisement.
This form of threat can appear to look exactly like the original organization or website it impersonates. That’s why plenty of people become a victim of it.
As a business owner, you need to learn and educate your employees about phishing scams.
- Inform them on how to spot and what to do if there is a phishing attack
- Be careful when opening an email address that uses a public email domain (@gmail.com and @yahoo.com). Most companies or businesses have their email domain and accounts
- Misspelled domain name or content is a red flag
- Poorly written content
- Creates a sense of urgency
- Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments
Using better email providers, antivirus software, and educating your employees can help avoid data breaches.
Activate two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication or 2FA is a security process that adds a layer of protection when accessing an account. It provides a higher level of protection as compared to single password security.
2FA can either be a biometric factor or code. A biometric factor requires account confirmation using a fingerprint or facial scan. Meanwhile, the security token is a code or PIN sent via text or email.
You can activate the 2FA on all your accounts for additional protection.
Earlier, we have mentioned the increase in ransomware attacks. With the data shown, it is vital to back up data in case of an online threat and natural disaster.
No matter what your remote employee is working on, inform them to back up their data. They should back up company data on the cloud or using an approved hard disk only.
You can avoid cyberattacks by implementing the cybersecurity checklist we have provided for your remote workers. When employees are educated and follow the company’s protocols, threats would be lessened or avoided. Therefore, there is no need to worry about data being lost.
Educate your employees regarding cybersecurity, how to spot an online threat and avoid it, and what to do in case of a cyberattack. Negligence is often the cause of data breaches in small businesses. However, this can be avoided when employees know about cybersecurity.
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