Remote working comes with a lot of perks for both the companies and the employees like high productivity, lower expenses, and a better work-life balance. However, one of the major downsides is the risk of data breaches and other security threats.
Unfortunately, hackers and cyberattackers have taken advantage of companies that weren’t able to take all the cybersecurity measures before implementing remote work. As COVID-19 has ramped up remote workforces, cybersecurity crimes have increased around 80% according to Forbes Report as compared to 2019. There was reported a ransomware attack in every 10 s in 2020, malware increased by 358 %, and more than 80% of reported security incidents were phishing attacks.
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 very important 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:
Always keep the passwords strong and update them regularly. Password safety is another very easy way to keeping important data safe. Do not use the same password everywhere and over and over again. This is one of the basic cybersecurity tips that can make the life of remote workers much easier.
You can also make use of a password manager that can generate strong and varied passwords for you. It can also save all the passwords safely.
Email can be a very potential getaway for threats. Thus, it is important 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 who has the information about the private key that matches the public key can decipher the text. Secure yourself from clicking on phishing links or malicious URLs that you might receive via email.
Ensure Security Protection by using Firewalls, Antivirus software, and Antimalware
All the remote workers should have up-to-date firewalls, antivirus software, and antimalware software. Firewalls can safeguard your data that is exposed over internet connections. Also if any device is stolen, the organization will have the capability of completely wiping 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.
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 any 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.
Backup the important files- Onsite & Offsite Backup
As mentioned earlier 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 backup like store data in hard drives, NAS, magnetic tapes, etc. As onsite backup will come in handy during server crashes and acts as an immediate solution during any kind of data loss.
NOTE: Onsite backup storage devices like hard disks, USB drives, etc needs 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 is also capable of retrieving lost or accidentally deleted files from any storage device.
Do not use 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 of that data on your personal laptop. As while you are at your work computer, you are using 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 that you have not taken all the prior mentioned security measures. Maybe you have not updated the security patches or not using a VPN, this will create a risk of a data leak.
Keep the Work Laptop & Devices safe
Never leave your work laptop unattended and open while you are not using it. Whether you are working from home or while traveling or maybe in a hotel room. Always lock the screen when you are not in front of your work laptop.
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 any links or download attachments received 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.
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 easiest solutions to this is using a Virtual Private Network. Making use of a VPN before signing up on a public Wi-Fi will encrypt the internet traffic. It will also monitor your device for any signs of infection.
Utilize Two-factor Authentication
Keeping unique and strong 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, apart from confirming the username and password, you have to answer a security question. Or give a unique PIN that is sent to your mobile phone to prove your identity. This added layer of security ensures insulation from data thefts.
How 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 breaching. This knowledge will hopefully help you explore the whole pandora of what measures companies should take to maintain data integrity.
Important to Set up a Cyber Security Policy
All the remote workers should be aware of the fact 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 making the employees aware of the risks of data breach verbally. It is crucial to let the employees take up small educational courses on how to ensure data integrity and learn 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 is implemented in the first place. Other than that, the policy should mention various security protocols that the remote workers are meant to 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 exact measures that are required. 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. As when you are working from the office, most organizations make sure that the router is adequate and updating 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 generally educate their employees on keeping the router’s security firmware up-to-date. Otherwise, they equip them with a corporate VPN as everyone at home will not be able to 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 highly sensitive 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 in blocking the usage of unsafe and unauthorized applications that 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 are working remotely they can use Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) to get access to their desktop that is having 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 that adds an extra layer of security.
Other than that, enterprises also invest in a secure cloud service so that remote workers can access the data using strong passwords and two-factor authentication.