For a long time, only a few people work from home was rare and was a luxury. But, after the pandemic organizations had to adjust accordingly to working remotely.
Companies have encountered numerous challenges setting up remote workers since this situation brings with it a variety of complexities and risks.
And one of those challenges is cybersecurity for remote workers.
As technology advances, so too do cybersecurity threats.
Immediately after Covid 19 struck, most firms were exposed to cybersecurity risks.
The reason is that they had no choice but to deploy available technologies rapidly in order to allow their employees to work from home as soon as possible.
Most of the firms had to use the available resources and preparedness they had at the moment. Thereafter, they worked on getting better as the situation continued.
Considering the number of times firms had to adjust, the response was heroic. Most of the firms exceeded expectations, especially on cybersecurity measures.
This article covers:
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- The importance of cybersecurity for remote workers
- Benefits of cloud security
- Key considerations for cybersecurity for remote workers
Importance of cybersecurity for remote workers
Throughout the years, cyberattacks have evolved and are continually getting more sophisticated, and are constantly improving.
85% percent of all respondents, according to the “Future of Secure Remote Work Report“, noted that cybersecurity for remote workers is increasingly important.
As a result, companies are increasingly working on creating an efficient and robust remote work environment.
Because their teams are no more in the same office, they needed to transition to cloud infrastructure. Unfortunately, as with all cyber-attacks, cloud computing is no exception and is no less vulnerable.
And because of this, it is very imperative to have robust cloud security. It is important to work with a cloud provider that has customized security. Plus the one who offers the best cyber protection for your company’s specific infrastructure.
Benefits of cloud security
Cloud security has many advantages which justify many firms adopting it for the cybersecurity of their remote workers. These are as follows.
1. Reduced costs
Cloud security is great because it delivers proactive features for security and offers all round protection without the need of any human intervention.
Investing in cloud security will eliminate the need to have dedicated hardware. Hence it significantly reduces the company’s capital expenditure and the administrative overheads associated with having it done the old-fashioned way.
Reducing cost is very essential because firms can then use the resources elsewhere.
Cloud computing services enable remote work that is very dependable. It enables remote employees to safely access all applications and data regardless of where they are and on any device.
This reliability is good for the employee’s productivity and efficiency while working remotely.
3. Centralized security
Cloud computing usually centralizes all the applications and data. Cloud security also has centralized protection.
Business networks that are cloud-based have many devices and endpoints and they can be very difficult to manage.
When the security is centralized it enhances web filtering and traffic analysis and streamlines monitoring of network events. It also results in fewer policy and software updates.
Moreover, it ensures that recovery plans for disasters are done, implemented, and managed in one place.
4. Reduced administration
As opposed to manual security which requires a lot of constant updates and configurations, cloud security is way simpler.
When you get a good cloud security provider, all the administration will be managed in one place.
This will significantly reduce your administration and also save on the company resources.
As a business, using cloud computing will give your organization a competitive edge. But it is important to have undisputed confidence in the cloud computing security you are using.
You need to be keen on that because cloud models are usually susceptible to cybersecurity threats. Cloud data security is especially very important when you are moving business processes, data centers, and devices onto the cloud.
You need a great organizational structure, comprehensive security policies, and cloud security solutions to ensure complete protection.
A cloud security solution ensures protection from any threats such as data breaches and unauthorized access.
Key security considerations for working remotely
1. Determine the endpoint protection required
Working at home is a very different experience than working from the office especially if you are doing the transition for the first time.
The remote work experience is different for both the employer and the employee. Both parties need to put in a lot of investment to ensure everything runs smoothly and security is also maintained.
Working remotely does not have the same level of control that working in the office does. You do not have the same resources and the ability to manage them.
There needs to be a policy in place that requires using endpoint protection software.
The company will ensure to install an antivirus tool on every machine that is used to access any firm’s resource.
The IT support team needs to have remote access to all machines configured for the company. This is to ensure that they can assist with all the setting up tools and setting up access.
Since there will be all-around monitoring of all the computers, you need to have the necessary licenses approved.
2. Review necessary software
For a remote work environment, you need to review and figure out what software is necessary for use.
The type of software you need will also determine the licensing you will need to use them. Some licenses allow the users to actually install an office suite that can be used on up to five devices.
Managing the remote systems is very important. You will need to have the ability to manage and monitor them at all times.
There are many options on the antiviruses available. Your antivirus vendor can help you know if they have cloud consoles to help manage all the machines remotely. The consultants will provide temporary licenses that have screen connection software that you can use to manage your network.
3. Ensure you do not introduce additional risk to the default ones
Working remotely is very risky by default and a lot of external factors can also add to that risk. You must think about every possible risk and consequence that may occur with remote work.
It is important that you make sure that you do not unintentionally introduce any more risk. The risks can be introduced through the licenses you choose to take. Remember, ransomware attackers are very intelligent and keen and they target any loophole that you may have on your security.
As the user, your remote employees need to be careful and should not open any remote access ports without considering the risks.
You can make use of the firewalls that are configured on your machines if you have to open remote access.
4. Enforce the two-factor authentication
Another simplest yet effective solution for the cybersecurity of remote workers is to introduce two-factor authentication.
It helps most modern enterprises with their ever-evolving security challenges. Make sure you add a two-factor authentication solution like DUO.com to the remote access solutions that already exist.
The two-factor authentication ensures that only users of the devices and admins can enter the system. This helps to close out on the attackers. There are many services and devices that can implement two-factor authentication.
There are two parts to the system:
- Token that the users use to login
- And the software or infrastructure which authenticates users using their tokens correctly.
The authentication code or one-time password is a sequence mapped to a specific device that the users can use just once for login.
Two-factor authentications for devices
Most smartphones have many possibilities when it comes to two-factor authentications. This helps the companies to be able to select and use what works best when working remotely.
Some of the devices are designed in a way that they:
- Recognize fingerprints
- Have a microphone used for voice recognition
- Have an in-built camera for facial recognition.
- Or have a GPS that helps to verify location and authenticate users.
Users can link a trusted phone number and use it to receive verification codes. The system sends these codes either by an automated phone call or through text message. Once the user enters the correct code, he/she can enter the system or program.
There are authentication apps as well that can also be used in place of the verification code done through voice calls and texts. In these apps, users can key in their username and password as a knowledge factor. The system then prompts them to enter some auto-generated numbers. The number constantly changes after every few seconds and for every new login attempt. If the user enters the number correctly, this completes the verification and proves that the device belongs to them and this is the ownership factor.
Is two factor authentication secure?
The two-factor authentication improves the security of all your devices when working from home significantly. However, it does not guarantee 100% security when used on its own. This is why businesses incorporate other security measures to ensure maximum security from any attacks and unauthorized access.
The two-factor authentication is secure and enforces security as users do not only have to rely on the strength of the password they use and this can easily get compromised.
5. Use a virtual private network
The Virtual Private Network was designed to help protect people online as a result of the inception of cybersecurity. Using the virtual private network is one of the most effective and easiest ways to assist with cybersecurity for remote workers.
The VPN has become increasingly very crucial for businesses and especially now that people work remotely, it is very essential to have one in the remote work environment.
The VPN boasts of providing security and privacy as it ensures your private data is protected. All companies need to share data among themselves and with other external parties. VPN ensures that one is able to share data remotely using public networks in a secure way. The VPN acts like a firewall as it protects any data you have online. It offers an additional layer of security and provides more anonymity and more privacy which helps the remote employees protect all their confidential information.
Below are some of the ways the VPN boosts cybersecurity and its advantages:
It ensures safe access to all cloud services
Cloud-based services have increased in popularity greatly especially now that majority of people are working from home.
Hackers are very intelligent and they can easily exploit cloud services to gain access and steal valuable information from people working remotely.
It is for this reason that IT departments install a VPN on all the machines and ensure data security.
The virtual private network safeguards all assets on the cloud services against any malicious attempts by fraudsters.
It ensures anonymity
Having a virtual private network is very important for all businesses and all the stakeholders working remotely as well. The VPN gives the company anonymity. As a result, employees can transact and share sensitive information fearlessly.
For stronger cybersecurity for remote employees, you should ensure that you install a good VPN. A good VPN will hide the location of the device, the IP address and any other details of the users from third parties and this protects the user especially when conducting sensitive business transactions.
It provides secure remote access
Having secure remote access is something that is invaluable for any company and especially in a remote environment setup. The VPN is very important to many people who are working from home and especially those who are using their own personal internet connection to work. When using your own personal internet connection, the risk of cyberattacks is more than using a company’s internet connection.
Installing a virtual private network on your work device will help as the VPN automatically encrypts the traffic from the company’s networks and from your end.
It maps your IP address
Most hackers are very keen as they track IP addresses to see the activities happening and then use that IP address to attempt to attack systems.
For this reason, the VPN is a very important tool as it hides the IP address and this prevents hackers from attacking. It designates a brand-new IP address to allow the user to conduct transactions that are sensitive.
The VPN ensures that the activities carried out online are untraceable as they come with different IP addresses every time.
It enables tunneled connections
Another great advantage of the virtual private network is that it helps people send data privately. A VPN tunneled connection wraps data packets inside other data packets before it goes through the internet through a process called encapsulation.
The VPN offers an extra layer of data protection. It ensures that the data you send is secure, away from any prying eyes, and ensures your content is safe from the public
VPN does an enormous job to ensure your data is protected. We can say that this is an affordable cybersecurity measure for the remote workforce.
Invest in a good VPN as it saves a lot of money that would be used in case of a cyber attack.
Additionally, the VPN is one of the easiest security measures to set up and install. Other cybersecurity measures are very complicated and this leads to their failure.
Plus, since the provider is solely in charge of the infrastructure, all the user needs to do is install it. It will do its work from there.
6. Access the impact of your firewalls, access policies, and other logging
When you have a majority of your employees working remotely, you may need to check on the access of the policies, firewalls as well as logging for everyone. Since everyone is working from different locations and using different IP addresses, the logging platform data will not be normal.
You also need to review some policies like geo-blocking in your firewall to restrict access from many locations. This measure is great when everybody is working from the same place. However, this may not be functional when people are working remotely.
The IT team also needs to check on the internet bandwidth to ensure that it can cover everyone working remotely. You need to check if the employees have optimum bandwidth to support some key functions like video conferencing.
Lastly, your security settings for internet providers and consumer firewalls may block remote access. You need to review these connection logs, add more resources and get security logs that will enable the users to connect remotely.
7. Educate remote employees on cybersecurity
Irrespective of all the cybersecurity measures taken, if you don’t invest in employee’s education on cybersecurity, you are very vulnerable. The cyber attackers are very much aware that not all employees are keen on cybersecurity measures. And, they usually use this to make the attack.
Training your employees is very critical and it is the most important measure you will take against cyber-attacks.
Many companies that have been previously hacked have confessed that it was through one of their employees’ reckless actions.
When employees are working remotely, there is not enough monitoring. There is not much a company can do other than educating them and trusting that they will do the right thing.
This is why the IT team needs to have regular sessions with remote employees. They need to educate the employees on the possible threats and the ways that they can prevent the attacks. They must constantly remind the employees about simple things like not sharing passwords and not clicking on unknown emails and links. Otherwise, it could be the company’s biggest downfall.
Since cyber-attacks are constantly evolving, you also need to stay updated. Moreover, you need to educate your employees on the new ways for cybersecurity especially when working remotely.
We are all aware, a simple cyber-attack has brought down a lot of multi-millionaire companies overnight in the past. Cyberattack is a very serious matter for every single business. They should heavily invest in cybersecurity measures to protect their remote employees from such occurrences.
Companies are now more than ever more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. This becomes even bigger a risk because most people are working remotely as a result of the pandemic. Businesses are now putting all measures in place and improving on cybersecurity for remote workers.
It is both the responsibility of the employer and the employee to enforce these measures when working remotely. It will ensure that all the sensitive information of the company is protected.
Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing (of course).