Security policies for your remote workforce

August 20, 2020  |  Maricar Morga

This blog was written by an independent guest blogger.

Current events are driving dramatic changes to many business industries around the planet. One of the most notable shifts is how the office-based framework for employees transformed to a remote workforce environment. Remote working has now become the norm for many enterprises and organizations worldwide.

While the remote working environment is not new in the market, it has gained momentum because of the current pandemic. Many people are now turning their home to be their extended office. However, as this happens, many security challenges are also following suit.

One of the many concerns businesses face is the lack of a security framework for the remote workforce scenario. Most organizations' design is to operate in a 9-5 work hour office setting, which makes the sudden change more challenging.

It is vital to ensure that your company will not be compromised as you continue to lean in on the new norm on the working landscape. It would be best to implement security policies that will ensure safety and will not make your hard-earned business susceptible to attacks.

Security policies you need to implement for your remote workforce

As you move your team into becoming a remote workforce, here are some security policies you can consider implementing to make your business attack-resistent. 

1.         Implement two-factor authentication

This first policy may sound basic, but two-factor authentication (2FA) is a strong defense against attacks on your remote workforce. Having 2FA means adding another security layer that will make it harder for hackers and cybercriminals to compromise your remote workers. This security feature can help lower the chance of losing your data to hackers, experiencing fraud, or even identity theft. Failing to establish this security check can be catastrophic.

2FA can be an excellent way to shield your business and business' information, so make sure you require your remote team to implement this in their corporate email, and other work they are doing from home, such as editing the company website, and other applications that they need to access to do their work.

2.         Require strong passwords

Passwords can be the first line of defense from any possible attacks. They can protect a website, essential data, and, eventually, the whole business in the long run. It is a must strategy to ensure that any system is always protected.

Having a 2FA should never be an excuse to use a birthday, a name, or even a pet's name for a password. No one should be lax enough to use a password that is easily guessed by anyone. Leaning on these weak and easy-to-access passwords can easily make cybercriminals infiltrate any system they target. Password re-use is especially problematic.

To be sure your business is protected well, require your remote workforce to have robust passwords. Having complex passwords can help protect the system, the company website, or other related accounts. Make sure that their passwords consist of upper and lower cases, specials characters, numbers, and at least 16 letters long.

3.         Lean on VPN

Virtual Private Network or VPN is another way to protect your remote workforce team from attacks. It allows them to connect to networks reduced risk of having hackers pry on their connection. VPN works by providing a tunnel for your device as it connects to the internet. It can hide your essential data by encrypting it, thus making it unreadable for someone trying to intercept with your data.

When you require your remote workforce to lean on VPN for an added security layer, ensure that you and your team rely on a VPN service provider with a good reputation. Always keep your VPN updated to make sure you get the protection that you need.

4.         Have employees refrain from connecting to public Wi-Fis

It is easy to understand that working from home may be a bit draining. Your remote workforce may want to work from a coffee shop or a co-working space for a refreshing environment. While this is beneficial for your employees' mental health, this can be a problem for your system's security as your workforce connects to public Wi-Fi.

Public Wi-Fis are available in places like coffee shops, malls, restaurants, hotels, and other areas with Internet access for free. However, many risks come along with these public networks. When you access websites and company systems, read a corporate email or check bank accounts using public Wi-Fi, it can pose risks. The use of public Wi-Fis can allow hackers and cybercriminals to position themselves between your remote workers and the connection point. Malware is also quickly distributed in insecure internet connections.

If there be a need to use any insecure connections, remind your remote workforce to use VPN when connecting to any public Wi-Fi.  

5.         Limit access to only what your team needs

Shifting from an office-based team to a remote workforce can be a hassle for team collaboration. While it is tempting to give everybody all of the access to all of your files for faster teamwork, it can be a grave mistake, as it can provide ways for hackers to access company data.

Provide only specific access to members of your remote workforce team. Do not grant permission for everyone to access all corporate resources

6.         Work in the cloud

When collaboration is needed, it is better to have your remote workforce work in a cloud-based environment instead of having files sent back and forth. As you transition your team to a distant working environment, a cloud-based storage system can be your best ally. It makes file sharing and collaboration easier and faster. Plus, it can provide your business with another security layer, as most cloud services employ security measures.

7.         Invest in antivirus protection and endpoint protection

Depending on your requirements, some of your team may work using a personal desktop or laptop. Most security-conscious companies don’t allow this. But if you can’t provide everyone with company-issued devices that they can use for work at home, invest in a reliable antivirus protection program for their personal devices.

Antivirus protection should be one of your must-haves when you move to a remote workforce structure as it can keep attacks at bay. While you can get a lot of free antivirus programs on the internet these days, it may not function and ensure safety like paid services you can invest in for your team.

Final thoughts

As you work on your security policies for your remote workforce, always remember that your employees are your most excellent defense against cybersecurity threats. Note that some of the biggest and expensive data breaches that happened in history are because of human fallibility.

This is why you need to educate your employees to practice their security awareness while remotely working. Your remote workforce team should always remain vigilant and on the lookout for malicious activities. Should they notice anything suspicious, train them to act with speed, and report it to your IT department. This strategy will prevent  attacks and ensure that cybercriminals are kept at bay.

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