Remote working has many perks for companies and employees, like high productivity, lower expenses, and a better work-life balance. However, one of the significant downsides is the risk of data breaches and other security threats.
Unfortunately, hackers and cyberattackers have taken advantage of companies that couldn’t take all the cybersecurity measures before implementing remote work. As COVID-19 has ramped up remote workforces, cybersecurity crimes have increased by around 80%, according to Forbes Report, compared to 2019. A ransomware attack was reported every 10 s in 2020, malware increased by 358 %, and more than 80% of reported security incidents were phishing attacks.
Note: You can refer to this article to learn how to recover files after a Virus attack.
Nevertheless, you do not have to worry about data integrity, as there are precautionary steps you can take to fortify your data security. It is essential for every individual working under any organization to take responsibility for data security. To do so, follow the cybersecurity checklist available in the next segment.
What actions should you take to keep Information Secure while Working Remotely?
Following are ten remote work best practices to minimize security vulnerabilities:
1: Password Hygiene
Always keep the passwords strong and update them regularly. Password safety is another straightforward way to keep critical data safe. Do not use the same password everywhere and over and over again. This is one of the essential cybersecurity tips that can make the lives of remote workers much more effortless.
You can also use a password manager to generate solid and varied passwords. It can also save all the passwords safely.
2: Email Encryption
Email can be a potential getaway for threats. Thus, it is essential to encrypt crucial data whenever you are sending them via email. You can encrypt an email message in Outlook. This method converts the readable plain text into scrambled ciphertext. Only the recipient with information about the private key that matches the public key can decipher the text. Secure yourself from clicking on phishing links or malicious URLs you might receive via email.
3: Ensure Security Protection by using Firewalls, Antivirus software, and Antimalware
All the remote workers should have up-to-date firewalls, antivirus, and antimalware software. Firewalls can safeguard your data that is exposed over internet connections. Also, if any device is stolen, the organization can completely wipe out the device so that there are no chances of a data breach.
The workforce should be educated about the importance of firewalls, antivirus, and antimalware software for cybersecurity.
4: Use VPN and Endpoint Protection
Using a virtual private network (VPN) is the most secure way of remote login. VPN helps in establishing a secure connection between your device and the internet. Thus, all the data traffic is now encrypted and inaccessible to hackers. A corporate VPN creates a fully secure connection to the enterprise’s intranet and server. Thus, even if, as a remote worker, you are using your own Wi-Fi or public Wi-Fi, the data is safe as long as you are using a VPN.
5: Backup the important files- Onsite & Offsite Backup
As mentioned, backing up important files and information in the cloud or an online platform should be the contingency plan. The best backup strategy is to maintain both onsite and offsite backup. Under offsite backup, you can go for Cloud backup. Also, keep onsite backups like storing data in hard drives, NAS, magnetic tapes, etc. Onsite backup will come in handy during server crashes and act as an immediate solution during any data loss.
NOTE: Onsite backup storage devices, like hard disks, USB drives, etc, need to be maintained as they are prone to corruption. Poor operating conditions, mechanical stress, or natural wear and tear can cause bad sectors that will damage the storage devices. Under such circumstances, keep a hard drive recovery tool ready to recover the important data from damaged storage devices.
Choose a reliable software like Remo Recover that will bring your data back safely in such vulnerable situations. This software can also retrieve accidentally deleted files or lost data from any storage device.
6: Do not use a Personal laptop for Work
It is always a best practice to keep your work-related activities limited to your work-issued laptop. Work data should be stored on your work laptop; do not keep copies on your personal laptop. While at your work computer, you use a VPN, secure Wi-Fi, endpoint protection, encrypted drives, updated anti-virus, etc. If you use your personal laptop for work, there is a good chance you have not taken all the security measures mentioned. Maybe you have not updated the security patches or not using a VPN; this will create a risk of a data leak.
7: Keep the Work Laptop & Devices safe
Never leave your work laptop unattended and open while not using it. Whether you are working from home, traveling, or maybe in a hotel room, always lock the screen when you are not in front of your work laptop.
8: Educate yourself about Phishing Attacks
Be very careful about all the emails or any other mode of communication that you receive. Do not enter any personal information or work-related data in the pop-up screens. Do not click on links or download attachments from an unknown source. Install a phishing filter in the web browser and email application as well. Enable multi-factor authentication in all your accounts.
9: Avoid public Wi-Fi
It is always recommended to avoid using public Wi-Fi because it introduces a significant security risk. Because while you are on public Wi-Fi, there is no firewall between you and the other users. Thus, it opens a channel for hackers to steal your data. Instead, you can rely on personal hotspots or mobile hotspots.
One of the most straightforward solutions is using a Virtual Private Network. Using a VPN before signing up for public Wi-Fi will encrypt the internet traffic. It will also monitor your device for any signs of infection.
10: Utilize Two-factor Authentication
Keeping unique and robust passwords is one of the basic steps that you have to take to ensure data integrity. But to level up the data security management, as passwords are often compromised or stolen, you have to utilize 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication). In this method, you have to answer a security question apart from confirming the username and password. Or give a unique PIN sent to your mobile phone to prove your identity. This added layer of security ensures insulation from data thefts.
How do Enterprises maintain Security when Employees Work Remotely?
Here are a few helpful insights on how companies protect and manage their remote employees from cyberattacks and data breaches. This knowledge will hopefully help you explore the whole pandora of what measures companies should take to maintain data integrity.
Critical to Set up a Cyber Security Policy
All remote workers should be aware that data security is a priority. Thus, most companies have a cybersecurity policy. This step sets the standard of behavior for the activities such as email encryption, password hygiene, etc. Instead of just, they verbally inform the employees of the risks of a data breach. It is crucial to let the employees take miniature educational courses on ensuring data integrity and learning about various protocols.
An improved Cyber Security Policy explains each person’s responsibility to protect the IT systems and data. It should also contain information about why the policy was implemented in the first place. Other than that, the policy should mention various security protocols the remote workers must follow.
Do Risk Assessment and Identify Weaknesses
Identify, analyze, and evaluate the possible risks. It will ensure that you have chosen the correct protocols and taken the required measures. This might sound like your organization’s responsibility, but risk assessment will save additional time, effort, and resources, keeping breaches at bay. Doing a risk assessment will also make you realize your weaknesses, and you can fix them before they cause significant damage on an employee level.
Ensure all the Firmware is up-to-date
One of the remote work best practices is to update your router’s security firmware. When working from the office, most organizations ensure the router is adequate and update it with the latest patches and fixes. But when you are working from home using the home router, it becomes easy for hackers to steal passwords and attack the company websites. Thus, organizations educate employees on keeping the router’s security firmware up-to-date. Otherwise, they equip them with a corporate VPN as everyone at home cannot update the firmware as the router companies do not provide notifications for the same.
Keep a Risk-free and Zero-danger approach to Cyber Security
Limit the access of all the remote workers to every system and resource of the organization. Depending on the requirement, you can set up an access protocol, as all the employees won’t need access to susceptible data or proprietary information. Before granting complete access to any data, companies generally assess the safety of the remote worker’s device.
Establishing an endpoint protection platform is also a vital part of enterprise cybersecurity. It is one of the best ways to safeguard the data available in individual devices of the remote workers that connect to the company’s network. This platform helps block unsafe and unauthorized applications, which generally creates a channel for cyber attackers.
Employ Remote Desktop Access or a Secure Cloud Computing
Companies can easily keep all their data inside the premises of the office, and no need to share that data with any other device. Even when employees work remotely, they can use a Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) to access their desktop with all the information. Remote Desktop sessions operate over an encrypted channel; thus, it prevents anyone from viewing the sessions. You can secure the remote desktop using SSL/TLS. Besides, Windows 10 also provides Network Level Authentication (NLA) by default, which adds an extra layer of security.
Besides that, enterprises also invest in a secure cloud service so remote workers can access the data using strong passwords and two-factor authentication.