5 IT security strategies that you should think about as employees return to the office

May 5, 2021 | Theodoros Karasavvas

This blog was written by an independent guest blogger.

Without a doubt, digital transformation accelerated amid the pandemic and made it possible for employees to work remotely. However, it also intensified the threat landscape created by malicious attackers who jumped on the first opportunity to attack the more vulnerable home networks.

As remote working becomes the new norm, it is paramount to have an agile infrastructure and team for security. Companies need to manage and orchestrate appropriate remediation activities carefully.

Focus on providing awareness training

Industry research has shown a 300% increase in the rate of cyber-crimes since the pandemic began, as malicious attackers leverage the opportunity to attack vulnerable home networks to access sensitive data.

Security awareness is the most important thing to teach your employees when moving towards a secure organizational culture. Security awareness training can help everyone get on the same page and understand the depth of the threats to reduce risks and incidents. Awareness is also critical because it can help employees prepare for unforeseen situations and equip them with security knowledge to know what measures to take in case of a problem. 

On top of general awareness for your employees, remember to facilitate your IT team and developers with application security awareness. This is especially important because as threats and malicious attackers find innovative ways to crack vulnerabilities, your IT team should be equipped to find solutions to new attacks. 

You can grow your security culture with these teachable moments:

  • Have a conference with your IT department where all employees are given security training
  • For workers working remotely, a security guide should be sent out to them detailing all security attacks, protocols, and preventions to follow
  • Teaching advanced lessons to employees in the R&D department to build secure products and services.

Make your employee payment system safer 

Creating invoices for sales and payment can be time-consuming, not to mention the number of security risks that come with sending payment invoices over emails. Emails go through several networks, including DNS servers, mail servers, and routers, before reaching the intended recipient. 

Along this route, cybercriminals are patiently waiting to intercept the email, looking for vulnerabilities and private information that they use to commit fraud. Since these emails include personal information such as your bank account number and contact number, it makes your emails highly vulnerable to malicious attacks.

You can have all the updated technology and an advanced security team. Still, even if you send out one unencrypted email with an attached invoice, you run the threat of being exposed to cybercriminals. Opt for invoicing software apps such as those with PCI-DSS certification, meaning that all financial data will be kept secure using encryption for both your business and your employees. 

Implement multi factor authentication

Multi factor authentication means adding an extra layer of security that involves asking more than just basic information required in single-factor authentication. It usually consists of a combination of information known only by the user, such as a security question, pin code, or an alternate email. 

Research shows that MFA is known to prevent almost 99.9% of attacks that compromised user accounts with a single-factor authentication. While it may work differently for different companies, there's no doubt that MFA can significantly minimize an organization's vulnerability to security threats. 

One way to use MFA is to utilize RSA Keys. RSA authentication consists of two elements, a password and authentication factor. The latter could be software or hardware that sends a verification during login to confirm the authenticity of the user. Once the user enters the correct password, they are to click on the token. 

The authentication code is generated periodically through a clock and consists of the factory-encoded random key. An authentication code will be generated at fixed intervals using a built-in clock and a factory-encoded random key. 

Enforce home-based VPN connections

As most employees prefer to work from home during the pandemic, most IT departments have to ensure productive and secure business operations during what seems like an extended period of remote working. 

Given the uncertainties, it has become critical to ensure that workers can still access office resources remotely and securely. While some companies may adopt a partial remote-working scene, it puts additional pressure on IT professionals to make upgrades that allow employees to work safely from home. 

These upgrades are essential because home networks are generally more susceptible to security breaches than office networks. Organizations need to deploy VPN connections that encrypt and protect data to ensure that employees have secure, remote access or an organization's resources. 

According to Toronto-based cybersecurity expert Ludovic Rembert of Privacy Canada, VPNs are also much more affordable now than they once were. "A VPN is your only safeguard against savvy cyber-criminals,” says Rembert. “Prices are also lower than ever before, with long, cheap contracts. There's never been a better time to get a VPN."

Establish a plan for secure storage

As the company's data and resources have to be shifted online on cloud platforms to provide access to remote workers, strict measures will have to be taken to ensure that all sensitive and confidential company data is encrypted and protected. Moreover, higher officials working from home should ensure that all such information is deleted from their devices. 

Both on-site and off-site storage solutions are available, depending on what suits the organization's needs. Often a combination of the two is adopted. However, cloud storage is usually more preferable, given the fact that it has no physical storage equipment or initial capital investment. 

Before embarking on creating a secure culture, ensure that your IT department has lined up all appropriate company resources for storage, sharing data, and collaboration. Additionally, your employees should also be aware of the new security storage plan to minimize errors and data leakages. 

Conclusion

The last year has changed the way businesses are going to operate in the future. Given the uncertain cybersecurity landscape, the only way to ensure that companies can function securely and remotely is to deploy stringent security measures to make working from home as secure as possible.

But remember changing a security culture cannot happen overnight. It will take time for employees to adopt the new changes. However, with the proper process and attitude, you can create a working environment that prioritizes security.

Theodoros Karasavvas

About the Author: Theodoros Karasavvas

Theodoros ‘Theo’ Karasavvas is a freelance writer based out of Corinth, Greece. He has written for Ars Technica, American Express, Gizmodo, Gold Visa Japan, Mental Floss, and Ancient Origins, among others. He has a Master of Studies in Law from the University of Athens and speaks four languages. He specializes in writing about history, current events, tech trends, and privacy technology.

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