Remote work has become the new normal for businesses that want to survive through the pandemic. A majority of companies were quick to adapt and transitioned to the model right after the crisis struck.
Now that it is well in progress, they have accepted that the employees will need to work from home for an extended period of time.
Even as businesses reopen, a larger chunk of the workforce is still being encouraged to work remotely. The sooner you accept the reality, the better it is for the organization.
However, as organizations implement the system, there are several challenges that come their way.
Securing remote workforces is one of the biggest concerns, considering that business data, networks, and applications are no longer confined to their physical locations.
Fortunately, there are some effective measures that you can adopt for securing the workforce and preventing cybersecurity breaches as employees operate outside of the normal office environment.
Let us explain the ones you can rely on.
1. Understand your remote security technology
When you switch to remote work environments, it is vital to have the right workforce security technology in your business continuity plan.
To start with, you would need to secure the internet and provide virtual private networks (VPN) to the employees.
Testing your system requirements and bandwidth before the implementation of the remote model is vital for preventing the risk of system overload.
The traditional measures such as protecting the corporate network with firewalls may no longer be enough.
Rather, you will have to assess the pandemic-induced security vulnerabilities and have the right controls in place.
2. Keep the team’s software current
While choosing the right technologies is the start, you need to ensure that you have only the latest software and applications to run. Many businesses have paid the price for using outdated software.
Updates software empowers you on the security front because they often have the latest security fixes which plug the vulnerabilities in the previous versions.
When hackers try to exploit your remote software, the patches you get with the updates will give you the protection you need. Conversely, an organization that is slow to upgrade will be a soft target.
The best thing to do right now is to get your remote teams to upgrade their systems and give them access to only the latest versions of the software.
3. Issue corporate-owned devices
Issuing corporate-owned devices that are enrolled in information security management systems can go a long way in eliminating security risks in remote environments.
Conversely, if you have a BYOD practice in place, ensure that you also invest in mobile device management for proper visibility and control over personal devices.
Look for an MDM solution with a user-friendly interface because it eases the workload of your IT team and enables them to manage device security effectively.
Never undervalue device security because employees may compromise the system and data intentionally or accidentally in case you do not have proper control measures.
4. Be extra vigilant about remote data access
As your employees work remotely, the security of confidential corporate documents and information should be on top of your mind. You have no choice but to provide them access to the requisite data.
However, it is vital to cover the risks involved. Enabling remote date access without proper security measures can expose vulnerabilities and open them to threats like loss, theft, and leakage.
This is the last thing that you would want to deal with during the crisis because data loss translates into a loss of reputation and customer trust.
Before you enable remote access, go the extra mile with permissions and restrictions so that only authorized people can get their hands on it.
5. Rely only on secure data systems
Apart from being stringent about data access, securing your data systems is another important measure for mitigating the security risks for remote operations.
Consider using a robust cloud-based data system. Also, take additional security measures such as multi-factor authentication for cloud-based applications.
Steer clear of browser-based, remote-controlled applications unless you understand their controls and audit capabilities fully.
Even the smallest of flaws or vulnerabilities in such software can elevate the risk of data loss for your business.
So going the extra mile with the choice of data and file-sharing applications makes sense.
6. Ask employees to make backups
Generally, data backups are an integral part of IT operations in office settings.
However, that is not the case with remote teams and it is natural to be worried about sudden incidents that may cause data loss for the business.
There could be hard disk crashes, accidental deletion of files, or even malware attacks to deal with.
Ensure that making regular backups is a part of the routine of people working from home.
If they have a backup, they would be able to recover the data without much problem.
However, even as you mandate data backups, you need to pay attention to its access and security controls as well.
7. Maintain communication and awareness
As organizations cope with such massive operational changes, communication with your employees becomes more important than ever.
Moving from a familiar environment to something disruptive is fraught with risk but good communication can reduce it significantly.
Ensure that you continually update them with your work-from-home policies, procedures, and best practices.
Adopt the culture of trust and security so that all the employees understand the value of staying one step ahead on the cybersecurity front.
Be willing to listen and answer questions so that people can clear their facts and work seamlessly, without risking your data and network as they work from home.
8. Looking at the future of a remote workforce!
The pandemic is not over yet and even when it comes to an end, business processes will never be the same. Implementing the right measures today is the only way to prepare your business for the future.
Needless to say, you can expect a major proportion of your workforce to keep working in remote environments. Securing them, therefore, no longer remains a choice.
Anything you invest in additional security technologies today would give you benefits in the coming years.
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