Remote work is becoming more popular among employees and business owners alike. According to Cision, in the last decade, 83% of all U.S. businesses have introduced flexible working policies, or have plans to introduce them. There can be a number of benefits to remote work, including increased employee satisfaction, reduction of overhead costs, and even an increase in
Making the transition to a remote office can require changes to some of your business’s core processes, including how you manage remote cybersecurity. When all of your business’s work relies on technology, maintaining proper cybersecurity practices becomes more important than ever. Here are some ways that you can maintain and manage cybersecurity for remote workers.
As you transition into a remote working landscape, you might find it valuable to hold company-wide meetings to address upcoming changes. At these meetings, you can address how the company as a whole is going to evolve, and discuss the implementation of new policies including those involving cybersecurity.
These meetings offer management a way to connect with and address concerns while providing employees a place to ask questions and gain perspective for the future. Topics to address at these meetings may include:
Changes to workflow scheduling
Changes to equipment use or management policies
Rights and responsibilities of remote workers
Changes to company software or legacy systems
Implementation of new cybersecurity practices
Best remote working practices for employees at all levels
You can customize these meetings in any way that suits you or your company’s needs. Fostering understanding between your employees and upper management can make the remote transition easier and can help identify and solve problems as they arise.
According to one report, 20% of cybersecurity breaches were caused by employee negligence. HR is central to educating staff on new policies and best practices. The reason HR is well-suited to provide this information is that this department has the capability to send out company-wide updates quickly and efficiently. This can help keep employees and management up to date on changes to cybersecurity services, required updates, and evolving best practices. HR also has the ability to influence and enforce company policy changes and field questions or conflicts. Remote training that can be utilized by HR can include webinars, Q&A sessions, and training videos.
As the IT and HR departments evolve digitally, they can help increase cybersecurity measures by establishing clear policies pertaining to electronic devices used for remote work. Whether these devices be personal or company-owned, having clear guidelines for remote employees can help decrease the margin of error that cybersecurity threats have to grow in. Examples of these policies may include:
Listing unapproved websites or no-download sites
Restricting personal account usage on company-owned devices
Specifying required cybersecurity or virus protection software for devices
Specifying required training completion pertaining to cybersecurity practices
Outlining the reporting processes for security breaches
Outlining the consequences for non-compliance
Another thing that HR and other management departments can do to improve remote cybersecurity is stay informed about cyber threats, as well as distribute pertinent information or identification strategies to remote employees. Cyberthreats to look out for may include:
You can learn more about cybersecurity threats and how to identify them through the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Communication between departments is crucial when on the lookout for security risks, and even more so in a remote environment where devices can be spread out geographically. Think of this like you would a neighborhood watch.
Through closer communication and familiarity with your surroundings, you can identify suspicious behavior more quickly and close any gaps that could be exploited. There may be some interpersonal barriers to communicating between departments initially.
This is where HR can help facilitate teamwork and address any problems that may arise.
As well as working together with HR, your IT department will be on the frontlines of your remote workspace helping maintain and troubleshoot your company’s devices and digital landscape. Whether you have an in-house IT team or contract out, it’s important to clearly establish the strategies and tools your IT team will use to improve and maintain cybersecurity for your remote workers.
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a great step to take in securing your remote workers. A VPN extends a private network over a public network, allowing users to send and receive data as if their devices were all directly connected to the same private network. VPNs also mask the IP address of your device, which can protect your online actions from being traced. VPNs can be purchased from private companies and, in many cases, have networks or deals specifically suited to business use.
Whether your remote employees are working on company-issued or personal devices, your IT department should set up an authentication and authorization system for all business accounts. This could include assigning specific usernames and passwords for better traceability, requiring employees to use a thumbprint scan for mobile devices, or setting up a data request process so employee identification can be verified before data is issued. The IT and HR departments should collaborate with employees and upper management to create these systems to ensure that whatever identity and access management strategy put into place is feasible for all employees.
Even with a VPN and authentication strategy, it's smart to keep extra-sensitive information, such as anything with addresses or direct deposit information, encrypted. Putting a password or PIN number on things like paystubs can help increase cybersecurity for your remote employees by narrowing the access point to this type of information. This can help your employees feel safer about their personal information, as well as decrease access points for identity thieves.
Migrating to the cloud is hugely beneficial for remote workplaces, but cloud services can appear intimidating if you’ve never used them before. A cloud-based data ecosystem for all remote workers offers myriad benefits. Data is stored securely and remotely, with increased accessibility no matter where an employee might be physically located. Using the cloud for data storage and sharing can help remote workers engage more seamlessly with onsite workers due to the ability to share instantly. Migrating to the cloud can also have other benefits for your business, such as making it easier to integrate intelligent automation in the workplace.
Cybersecurity for remote work really boils down to two things: communication and access. Making sure that all departments have the ability to communicate with each other in the event of a breach, update, or process change helps stop possible breaches or vulnerable areas from going unnoticed.
Similarly, making sure all departments and employees have access to everything they need remotely, either through the cloud, digital apps, or both, can help the management and maintenance of security efforts run smoothly.
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