The rise in the remote workforce is no secret. Advances in networking and mobile technologies have enabled employees to do work outside the confines of the office. Companies are embracing this trend, with one study finding up to 63% of company respondents allowing remote work.
The benefits are clear. Just take a look at some of these figures:
- According to a recent survey, 86% of employees prefer to work alone, and two-thirds of managers say remote workers increase their overall productivity
- 82% of remote employees report reduced stress levels
- Workplaces that allow remote work have been able to drastically cut costs on real estate
Whether you’re a small business with employees in different states or just stuck at home sick, remote work has become an alternative for companies to reduce costs and enhance their employees’ work/life balance.
Benefits aside, remote working does open up your business to more cybersecurity threats. Here are the three types of threats you’ll need to make sure your IT team is prepared to handle and a safety checklist to guide your security efforts.
Loss of Standardization
Ultimately, enabling remote work demands changes in your business’s computing infrastructure. By creating a decentralized environment, employees diffuse security efforts, which leads to a more challenging setup for your IT team to protect.
Essentially, hosting a remote team can add a network of mismatched devices, all running on different operating systems. If you’re not currently using a secure VPN, then you’re asking your IT team to take on the extra effort of managing all these different operating systems and devices — a time consuming and perhaps unrealistic task.
Before remote working was prevalent, business devices were all standardized. Same brand, same machine, same software. Now, with many different devices connecting to the same network, it becomes much more difficult to figure out which aren’t supposed to be there, increasing your business’s vulnerability.
One of the most common dangers surrounding file transfer practices is when employees attach private company documents and data to a personal device.
Ask yourself: have you ever emailed company information to a personal email address because you needed to access it from a different computer?
If you’re nodding, you’re not alone as 67 percent of workers already use their personal devices in the workplace. Personal devices and the unsafe migration of data also increase the odds an employee loses a device with sensitive information on it. From thumb drives to mobile phones, mistakes happen.
With the flexibility granted to remote employees, they tend to work extended hours, balancing personal and professional tasks throughout the day. This increases the likelihood that your employees will perform tasks while connected to public or unknown Wi-Fi networks, or opt to send a file via instant messaging or email instead of adding it to your secured shared drive. All of these options put your network security and business information at risk.
For example, hackers have made use of a common tactic where they position themselves between you and the public connection point. In this scenario, instead of sending information through the public hotspot, you’re actually sending through the hacker. This makes information like emails, phone calls, credit card information (when you make a purchase) and business data extremely vulnerable. Once hackers have that information, they can gain access to all of your data and install malicious software on company devices.
How to Prevent Vulnerabilities
Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are revamping their office space to meet the needs of mobile employees. Studies repeatedly show that employees are away from their desks 50% to 60% of the time.
Here’s the quick list of what you can do to prevent vulnerabilities in your network:
- Use cloud-based storage
- Encrypt devices whenever possible
- Use a VPN
- Rollout automatic updates to remote devices
- Set up an encrypted email platform
- Deploy an endpoint security program
There’s a lot that goes into protecting your remote employees and organization from cyber threats, but you don’t have to do it alone. We’ve created a checklist to help you organize your efforts to keep remote employees safe. This includes steps for:
- Establishing security policies
- Securing your network for remote access
- Planning for crisis scenarios
- Tracking and protecting remote assets
Click the button below to download the free checklist and get started securing your remote employees today.
Written by Nik Vargas