Small businesses and large companies alike are at risk of cyberattacks, but the risk of hacking and data theft has increased considerably with the rise of remote workers. Remote workers present a different set of challenges for business security, as there is often not the same level of protection and safeguarding measures in place as there would be in the office. However, there are ways that businesses can ensure data and documents are kept safe from cybercriminals and hackers through digital security best practices for remote employees.
Enable multi-factor authentication
Weak passwords put your system at risk, but it’s not enough to choose a strong password and hope that it’s sufficient. Passwords can be broken with enough effort. In fact, for a skilled hacker, it would take only two seconds to crack an 11-character password using just numbers, and only a minute for a 7-character password of numbers, and upper and lower-case letters.
Multi-factor authentication is a more secure way to protect your information. This adds an extra layer of protection as there’s additional actions that need to be taken care of before you can get to the stage of entering a password, for added peace of mind.
Educate employees on potential threats
Many businesses are now more open to hiring fully remote staff, which means that educating staff on the risks and threats to watch out for needs to be part of the onboarding process. Remote workers need to be able to recognise unusual activity on their devices and be reliable enough to notify your organisation to report the activity.
For example, if a remote employee is sent a phishing email, they should be alert enough to the threats to know what is a legitimate email and what could be malicious. Make sure that when remote hires are being trained, they know to look out for phishing scams such as odd email addresses, poor grammar or generic greetings, and where links are directing to, so that they don’t click on anything that could pose an issue.
Avoid public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi poses a huge security risk so if remote staff are working from public spaces, such as cafes or hotels, it’s essential that they avoid accessing the internet from a public Wi-Fi connection. Not only will other people have access to this network but if there’s no firewall protecting the device, hackers are in the perfect position to steal data. A VPN should be used for remote access applications to protect traffic, providing a flexible connection to different services such as emails or servers.
Reinforce confidential business practices
Many people who are working from home aren’t doing so in a designated office. They might be working around friends or family members, which puts confidential information at risk of being seen by unauthorised people. Make sure remote employees are reminded of the importance of confidential processes and professionalism when they’re working, such as locking computers when they’re not in use, keeping personal emails separate from work contacts, and ensuring that physical documents aren’t left around the property where they might be seen or stolen.
Protect company devices with software
In many cases, remote staff will be using their own devices to work from, compared to in-house staff who will typically use company equipment. This means that it’s the responsibility of the employee to ensure that these devices are protected with anti-virus software and firewalls.
Employees should also be regularly reminded to keep software up to date so that it’s not vulnerable to attacks, as cybercriminals often scan for outdated software, such as plugins, as a way in to steal data and gain access to databases. From desktops and laptops to mobile devices, remote workers need to keep any device they are working from patched and updated for added security.
The huge shift to remote working has led many businesses to adapt their processes and system to accommodate the needs of employees. But these changes come with security risks that need to be avoided in order to protect the business and its reputation. By ensuring remote staff stay alert to potential threats, maintain strict password and authentication practices, and ensure that unauthorised access to data is avoided, companies can enable staff to work confidently from home.
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