Many, many companies have adopted remote work policies and practices since the COVID-19 pandemic forced most to downsize (if not cease outright) on-site operations about two years ago. Now, as we enter 2022, it seems a good time to reexamine the security that we have protecting our businesses and the workers currently operating remotely.
The Pandemic Has Shown Businesses How Well Remote Work Can Work
Despite the resistance that many initially had to the concept of remote work, it quickly proved to be a blessing for those companies that adopted it. Now, about two years later, its value has continued as it has kept a lot of businesses open and operational to some extent as infection rates have fluctuated. This approach has also proven popular amongst the employees who are participating in remote work efforts. A PwC survey conducted in August revealed that nearly a fifth of these workers would like to be fully remote, even without COVID in the picture.
However, for all the benefits that remote operations have provided to businesses, we need to address the elephant that snuck into the room with them: the cybersecurity challenges that remote work and working from home have introduced.
Unfortunately, Remote Work Can Provide Cybercriminals with Opportunity
Despite all the positive aspects that remote work has to offer a business, we can’t pretend that it doesn’t come with its share of challenges—specifically, in terms of maintaining an acceptable level of cybersecurity.
The reality of it all is that your team members simply aren’t going to have the same protections in their home as you should in the office, which means you need to do all you can to supplement the protections you have in place.
Security Issues Can Come from All Angles
Unfortunately, there are many factors in play that can unpleasantly influence your business’ cybersecurity. Not only may your team members be using their own technology to do their job, they’ll certainly be doing so on a network that you don’t have control over. As a result, this network will almost certainly lack the protections you have on your business’.
Furthermore, as they’re working remotely, your team members are going to be on their own. This makes it that much less likely that they’ll be as focused on their security practices as they should be, and more exposed to threats as a result.
So, While Remote Work Can Be Valuable, You Need to Keep It From Making You Vulnerable
It’s obvious that you need to protect your business from any threats it faces…the question is how you can do that. There are a lot of practices and solutions that we recommend a business have its users adopt to help shore up these vulnerabilities. For instance:
- If an employee has no choice but to use a public Wi-Fi connection, make sure they are utilizing a reputable VPN (virtual private network) to secure data while it is being transmitted
- To help prevent employees from transferring data from work devices to private ones, putting together a Bring Your Own Device policy to help establish some control over the device and allowing them remote access to your infrastructure or using the cloud helps to secure your data.
- Password practices need to be upheld just as vigorously as they would be in the office. Not only do they need to be complex enough, they all need to be unique. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) should also be implemented to double-down on the security that accounts are protected by.
- Physical security also needs to be remembered when working remotely. Devices should never be left unattended in a public place, and it is not a bad idea to secure them in the home as an added safety precaution.
- All devices used for work, including the modem and router supplying wireless Internet, need to be kept up-to-date so that they remain secure.
- All remote users should be reminded of the threat that scams and phishing attacks pose, with ongoing training and other awareness-enhancing activities being conducted on a regular basis.
Yes, this is a lot, but it’s all important to do to keep your business secure. We’re here to help businesses do so. Give us a call at (616) 534-1500 to learn more.
RedRock offers a full range of compliance-focused IT services including help desk, server and network management, perimeter and endpoint security, and associated hardware and software. What makes us unique is how we bake security into everything we do. We are regulated by the FDIC, NCUA, and DIFS. We undergo regular exams and audits by 3rd party assessors. This oversight offers our customers the peace of mind that multiple entities look at our products, policies, procedures, financials, etc.