When many companies began to work remotely at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was thought to be short term. More than a year later, it has become the norm for many companies. A recent survey published by Gartner found that 80 percent of employers plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time post-pandemic, and approximately 47 percent said they would allow employees to work from home on a full-time basis.
Although there are many benefits to employees working remotely, accessing corporate networks outside of the office environment does pose certain security threats. Organizations that work remotely often face increased security risks including malware, phishing attacks, password theft and ransomware. When working remotely, it is crucial for organizations to establish strong policies and enforce cybersecurity best practices.
Secure Home Networks and Limit the Use of Public Networks
Some employees make the mistake of not securing their home network. When personal routers are left with default passwords or the same credentials are used across a wide range of devices, cybercriminals can easily gain access to home networks and obtain sensitive business data. Changing the router password is an important step in securing a home network. Employees should also avoid using public networks when performing work duties, as these networks are not secure.
Provide Devices for Employees to Work On
When working remotely, employees should always use devices provided by their employer or approved devices under a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. Using a personal smartphone, tablet or laptop for work purposes as well as non-work purposes, such as shopping or playing games, can put a device at risk for cyberattacks.
Devices used exclusively for work should be equipped with the latest antivirus solutions, firewalls and other safeguards to protect the device from hackers. Although it may seem like a costly upfront investment to provide each employee with a device, it can save businesses much more in financial and reputational expenses in the event of a cyberattack.
Provide Antivirus and Malware Removal Software
Many devices come equipped with basic antivirus and anti-malware software. However, these software solutions are often not sufficient for business protection. Employers should provide employees with access to commercial-grade antivirus and anti-malware software that is strong enough to block potential entry points for hackers. There are currently many cost-effective options on the market that take just minutes to download and install to a device.
Use a Strong Password Protocol with Two-Factor Authentication
One of the simplest things that an employee can do to keep sensitive business data safe is to use a strong password for each device. Poor password choices can lead to data breaches that put the entire enterprise at risk. If a password is leaked on the dark web, a business can fall victim to a cybercrime.
Instruct employees in how to create strong passwords and utilize multi-factor authentication for an extra measure of security. Multi-factor authentication provides employees with additional protection by requiring the employee to validate their identity before gaining access to confidential information.
Train Your Employees on Phishing and Other Scams
Phishing is a common cybercrime that involves contacting a target by telephone, email or text message. The hacker poses as a legitimate institution to lure in an unsuspecting employee and obtain sensitive data, such as usernames, passwords or credit card details. Phishing and other digital scams have become much more sophisticated over time and it can be difficult to distinguish a legitimate institution from a hacker. Educate employees on phishing and other common scams to help reduce the organization’s risk of falling for these online scams. Perform regular phishing tests, so employees are encouraged to slow down and carefully review emails and other communication before opening emails, clicking links, providing credentials or downloading attachments.
Work with a Third-Party Cybersecurity Consulting Firm
One of the best ways that a business can protect against cybersecurity threats is by partnering with an independent third-party cybersecurity consulting firm. Cybersecurity firms offer a wide range of services designed to protect sensitive business data. Some of the most common services offered include security risk management, cyber risk assessments, disaster recovery, business continuity, threat intelligence, security incident management, incident response strategies, and regulatory compliance.
Speak with the Cybersecurity Consultants at Hartman
Independent cybersecurity consultants are now an essential component of many organization’s cybersecurity plans and best practices. Information technology has transformed the way that companies operate, and keeping up with the ever-changing landscape can be a time-consuming and costly job, especially for businesses working remotely. A cybersecurity consulting firm can guide a business toward efficiency and security. To learn more about cybersecurity best practices for organizations working remotely or to speak with a reputable cybersecurity consultant, contact Hartman Executive Advisors today.