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Securing your remote workers

Over the last few years, I’ve been noticing that several tech companies, such as Buffer, Todoist and Help Scout, to name a few, have switched to a remote or partial work setup in securing their remote workers. Most of these companies spent months preparing for the switch by training their employees, setting up remote work policies, and ensuring the infrastructure to deal with cybersecurity threats. 

However, many companies made the switch overnight when COVID-19 hit. Very few got the chance to prepare themselves. As a result, they became more vulnerable and open to cyberattacks and data breaches. And this is what cybercriminals are capitalizing on. 

According to the latest data from the National Cyber Security Alliance, most businesses reported an increase in incidents, with over 60% of companies showing increases by at least 25%.

Risks and consequences of not updating

Your existing protocols and training programs came from a pre-pandemic world. However, things have since changed. Now, employees access critical company data through connections and devices beyond your control. Your company is more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats than ever. Failure to update company security protocols and training programs could lead to the following consequences:

Employee inaction and dip in morale. If you don’t train your employees to identify or deal with new types of security threats, they may feel helpless or indecisive in the face of an attack. Moreover, in a remote setting, they may find it hard to ask for support. 

Hampering of business growth: Cyberattacks hamper your credibility and reputation in the market. This can make it challenging to gain new customers or keep existing ones.

Business paralysis: There has been a massive rise in DDoS attacks over the last few months. And such attacks lead to website downtime, increased vulnerability, and disruption of business operations.

Compromise of crucial business information

If you cannot defend yourself, cybercriminals may get away with everything from confidential client data, patents, sales information, business plans and much more.

Financial implications: According to a 2021 report, ransom demand’s value has increased, with some exceeding $1 million. But paying a ransom is not the sole financial implication. A breach could see you lose money, your clients’ financial details, your reputation, and much more.

Legal sanctions: If you cannot protect yourself against cyberattacks you could face consumer lawsuits, hefty fines and sanctions, and even a business shutdown. 

How can you secure your remote workforce?

You need to constantly strengthen and grow to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals. If most of your employees work remotely, it won’t take much to breach your defences. All it could take is a password shared publicly on a team chat app, an accidental click on a phishing link, or confidential company information accessed through a public Wi-Fi connection.

Therefore, you need a new IT policy that addresses remote workforce requirements. Apart from that, you must ensure all employees receive additional security training.

Personal security devices

If your company allows employees to work using their personal devices, you must ensure they are of a minimum standard. You must clearly define what is permissible and what is not — the type of devices, operating systems, applications and websites that can be accessed. 

Besides that, give your employees a list of all security, remote access, VPN and other tools they need to install before they start. Your employees should also know the level of access/control over their devices, the type of technical support you can provide and the company’s right to wipe/alter the devices.

Network security

Public Wi-Fi and home Wi-Fi networks are nowhere near as secure as the LAN connection in your office. That’s why you must enforce minimum-security standards to ensure employees don’t put company data at risk. Define everything from Wi-Fi encryption standards, Wi-Fi password difficulty, network security software, router safety guidelines and the types of devices connected to the same network. 

Further, discourage the use of public Wi-Fi. If an employee has no other alternative, give them a list of essential safety guidelines they need to follow, like secure connection, WPA3 compliance, websites to avoid, etc.

Cybersecurity training

Because of this sudden migration to a remote work setup, IT teams in most organizations were stretched beyond their limits. They must take care of support requests and ensure data and digital assets are safe and secure. Therefore, you must provide your employees with adequate cybersecurity training to deal with emerging cyber threats. 

The training program must include everything from password management, multifactor authentication, identifying phishing and ransomware attacks, guarding personal devices against cyberattacks, operating/updating security software, configuring Wi-Fi, setting up VPNs, and email usage, reporting/responding to cyberattacks, and much more.

Time to strengthen your remote workforce

Cybercrime is on the rise across the world. The ongoing economic downturn is only going to make things worse. That’s why you must ensure everyone in your organization always has their guard up.

However, if you decide to take on this journey alone, it will be challenging, and you might have to set aside a lot more time and effort than you can invest. If you’re a business owner, VP of IT or IT director and are having trouble securing your remote workforce, then please visit www.cyologylabs.com for a free and friendly consultation.

If you’re a consumer and employer and want to learn how to protect yourself and your staff online, then please visit www.InternetSafetyUniversity.com for our free masterclass.

In the meantime, for more information and to interact in your cyber defence please download our free mobile app, FRAUDSTER, available on Apple and Android. Learn more at www.FraudsterApp.com

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