The rise in the prominence of remote work over recent years continues to revolutionize the contemporary employment landscape. It offers workers and businesses a range of benefits, from greater flexibility to more productive practices. However, with this newfound freedom comes an increased risk of cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
Businesses are starting to recognize the importance of maintaining robust cybersecurity measures when employees are away from centralized offices. Moreover, a commitment to actively offering support to workers rather than simply providing a selection of potentially effective security tools can create a stronger holistic security culture.
We’re going to take a closer look at how businesses are providing cybersecurity assistance for remote employee bases.
Engaging in more active involvement in supporting remote workers with security helps to ensure the safety of all stakeholders. Gaining a full awareness of the challenges inherent in remote work is an invaluable first step. Primarily, this is because it ensures businesses can provide the most impactful and relevant resources.
Some of the key security challenges of remote work include:
An increasingly common challenge with remote work is the use of personal devices for work purposes. Remote employees might utilize their personal laptops, smartphones, or tablets to interact with company networks and sensitive data. This can pose a security risk, as employees will naturally also utilize these tools for accessing websites, opening private emails, and downloading elements in their personal time.
One of the most significant challenges of remote work cybersecurity is the lack of control the company has over any remote employee’s work environment. Workers may operate from home, a public space like a coffee shop or library, or other unsecured networks that could be vulnerable to cyber-attacks. As a result, businesses can find it difficult to ensure that their remote employees are accessing company data from secure and trusted networks.
Even though companies may be utilizing employees in disparate geographical locations, this doesn’t mean they’re entirely protected from insider threats. Remote workers may have access to sensitive company data, including consumer information and company intellectual property. In some instances, data breaches may be the result of dishonest workers. However, insider threats can also be the result of workers not having sufficient cybersecurity knowledge or simply acting carelessly.
It’s important to recognize that the most effective approach isn’t always to simply provide tools that seem to offer cybersecurity protection to remote workers. Rather, there still needs to be an element of collaboration in addressing the challenges. Therefore, the choice of tools businesses offer workers should be those that meet both the workers’ and the business’ day-to-day security needs.
Some effective examples of collaborative security tools include:
Maintaining strong passwords is an important basic measure for companies and workers to collaborate on. However, it’s worth considering that even the strongest passwords might be hacked or stolen. An increasing number of companies are considering adopting passwordless authentication tools as an alternative. This approach can both bolster security and make it easier for remote workers to navigate multiple accounts. Effective resources here can include biometric verification readers on devices. Businesses may also provide USB devices or software tokens to access devices or accounts.
At the moment, one of the most common tools for businesses and remote employees collaborating in security is Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). These platforms enable remote workers to securely access company data from anywhere by encrypting their internet connection and masking their IP addresses. By encouraging workers to utilize these VPNs, businesses both prevent cybercriminals from intercepting sensitive information and ensure workers have the freedom to operate from anywhere they can be most productive.
The tools businesses and remote workers utilize aren’t strictly limited to tech platforms. Regular training is also a vital component of mutually beneficial cybersecurity protocols. Businesses must facilitate effective training either with guidance from professionals via video calling platforms or through specialized eLearning courses. Companies should also augment this training with resources like security checklists or guides that workers can refer to in their day-to-day activities.
It is vital to ensure that remote operations are built on a framework of cybersecurity best practices. This includes responsible worker behavior and the attitude the company takes toward keeping the workforce protected. Business leaders should work closely with remote employees to both communicate appropriate best practices and ensure these are followed effectively.
Some best practices include:
Remote cybersecurity best practices should begin before workers are even onboarded. In many ways, the choices you make when recruiting remote workers can have wide-reaching effects on a company’s image, success, and security. Naturally, some of the key focuses are candidates that have solid technical skill sets and who represent the ideal company culture. But it’s also wise to consider the level of independent cybersecurity understanding and experience candidates could bring to the role.
Some of the most impactful best practices businesses can assist remote workers with are also relatively simple. Regularly updating devices with the latest security patches and software additions helps to keep networks secure. When workers are operating away from traditional offices, businesses must reach out to prompt workers to install updates on personal devices used for work. Information Technology (IT) personnel could also provide guidance on identifying updates and installing them correctly.
Ultimately, creating a culture of security is vital in ensuring the ongoing protection of remote workers and businesses alike. Companies need to regularly communicate cybersecurity policies and encourage open communication about potential security concerns. It can also be wise to involve workers in building and implementing effective cybersecurity response processes. This helps to ensure remote workers feel supported in maintaining protection while also being comfortable playing an active role in safeguarding company systems and data.
As remote work becomes more prevalent, businesses must continue to acknowledge and tackle the unique cybersecurity challenges it presents. By recognizing that remote employees’ security is a shared responsibility, companies can actively engage in supporting and protecting their workforce. This should include implementing collaborative security tools and adopting solid protective best practices.
Nevertheless, it is vital that businesses also recognize that security threats are constantly changing. They must work alongside remote workers to maintain vigilance about potential issues and even how new remote tools might present areas of vulnerability. The stronger such collaborations are between businesses and workers, the more robust risk mitigation is likely to be.