Remote Cybersecurity: Threats and Best Practices While Working From Home
Cybersecurity is a critical component in remote working. Employees need to ensure that they are following the guidelines to work from a remote location safely.
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COVID-19 has transformed how companies operate today. With 50 percent to 90 percent of staff working remotely, organizations are now looking at remote work as the new working style in the future. While working remoting has its benefits, one of the biggest challenges it presents is cybersecurity problems. Businesses face remote cybersecurity issues like protection of data, networking challenges, and issues with cloud computing.
OpenVPN conducted a study recently which showcased that 90 percent of IT professionals believed that remote workers are not secure. Because every remote worker works on a different network, which may not be secured, employee security issues are a major concern. Working from home issues involve working from public networks and personal devices, which possess a multitude of security vulnerabilities.
Organizational data is another big player at risk with remote work. Cybersecurity for businesses is a critical issue, mainly because everything involves data in today’s enterprises. Without cybersecurity, sensitive and confidential information is at a high risk of being exploited by unethical users.
Remote information security jobs are effective only to an extent and have significant limitations. System administrators, network engineers, and ethical developers work with hardware to understand security concerns, but when working from home, issues in cybersecurity are a big threat. Companies must address these threats, follow the best practices, and bring essential improvements in their cybersecurity landscape if they want to adapt to remote work.
Cybersecurity Problems and Threats While Working From Home
First of all, remote work is not limited to working from home during COVID19. Employees will work from different locations using the freedom that comes with remote working. Thus, organizations need to focus on remote cybersecurity rather than simply addressing working from home issues in cybersecurity. Some of the biggest cybersecurity problems and threats are underlined in the following points.
Unsafe Network Connections
Networks are one of the major cybersecurity problems. Remote teamwork gives employees the ability to work using public Wifis or Wifis with weak security layers. They could be accessing their corporate accounts using unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
Since employees share confidential information, hackers, and users with malicious intent can spy and steal that data. Cybercriminals can easily hack into the networks and intercept the information. Unsecured networks increase employee security issues twofold.
Personal Device Usage
Another big concern is employees using personal devices for work. Corporate devices come with many layers of security that cannot be easily accessed by cybercriminals. Several risks, like virus threats, hacking, etc., can happen on personal devices.
Remote cybersecurity becomes challenging with personal devices. If children use the same devices, they might accidentally delete some files. Employees who leave can also store confidential information on their devices and sell or share it with someone.
Personal devices may also not have the appropriate and secure software for working with a virtual environment. Anyone working in cybersecurity knows the importance of regular software updates. On personal devices, it is hard to monitor if the latest software versions are installed or not.
Apart from cyber threats, there are physical threats that are not counted as cybersecurity risks. Employee security issues also arise from human errors like talking on the phone loudly about sensitive information in public, unwanted buttons pressed by babies at home, or exposing the laptop screen to everyone in public places.
Sometimes, employees leave their devices unattended, which is one of the significant working-from-home issues. God knows what would happen if devices are left unattended in public places. Other threats include a loss of standard work culture, mismatched operating systems, and other issues that make cybersecurity for businesses a challenging task.
Remote Cybersecurity: 6 Best Practices for Working from Home
Cybersecurity remote jobs are almost non-existent for a reason: cybersecurity requires system administrators, engineers, and ethical hackers to be present near the hardware and work with it. However, if the entire organization is working from home or even most employees are, it becomes a necessity to maintain security from a faraway place.
By following the best practices of the cybersecurity landscape, organizations can protect their employees from vulnerable threats. It will enable them to ensure that employees working remotely have a stronghold on things and are not vulnerable to risks.
Here are some of the best remote cybersecurity practices companies can follow -
1. Work From Home Policy
First and foremost, you must create a work from home policy that addresses all the guidelines that remote workers need to follow. It will outline the necessary steps they must take, how to access systems, what information they shouldn’t share, and everything else.
Having a proper policy in place will eliminate nearly 75% of your cybersecurity problems. When remote workers know the guidelines, they would practice them and ensure that they meet the regulatory standards of remote cybersecurity.
2. Use Encrypted Communication Tools
While working with remote employees, you must always use encrypted communication tools and devices to avoid employee security issues. This involves everything: sending an email to video conferencing.
In the policy, you must list out all the communication tools that remote workers will be using. Encryption is key because communication involves the transfer of a lot of sensitive information. Always ask remote workers to check their privacy settings and enable firewalls in their devices.
3. Setup VPN
The best way to provide encryption and avoid cybersecurity problems is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN provides an alternative IP address to your network while bringing in traffic to your network. It provides cybersecurity for businesses to a certain extent as it protects the data that goes through it.
VPN is an encrypted way of data transfer. However, not all VPN connections are secure. In such cases, employees must use their personal hotspots and avoid public Wi-Fi networks altogether. Any network which isn’t secured with a password has the potential to steal all your information. The cybersecurity landscape emphasizes regular use of personal and private networks only for remote workers.
4. Avoid Data Sharing
First of all, ask all your remote workers never to use their personal devices for work. Most of the work from home problems in cybersecurity arise because employees were working from personal devices. Never share or store data on personal devices as it possesses great risks of being stolen.
If you are using a personal device, you should avoid sharing sensitive data through networks with other employees. Work data should always be kept on work devices. If it is not possible, data should not be shared to eliminate employee security issues. Ask the IT team to install all the necessary files, updates, and security measures on your work device and use that for working remotely.
5. Backup Your Data
Anything can happen to your data while working remotely. Someone could hack and steal it, or you may lose your device. A number of vulnerabilities occur with remote work. One of the most important things is that you should always have a proper backup of your data. If you are working remotely for a long-term, have weekly backups of your data. If you have an important project going on, take a daily backup of your data.
Backing up data can help you to avoid cybersecurity problems in case you have lost it. Data maintenance is an important task for cybersecurity remote jobs. IT team is always concerned with managing remote data and eliminating issues through data backup.
6. Physical Security
Issue guidelines to your employees for cybersecurity regarding physical security. It involves never leaving the device unattended, not working in public places, and communicating in a slow volume about confidential information. Such small acts make a big difference in remote cybersecurity for employees across the organization.
Remote workers should never work with someone outside of work in the same room. They should also never run out of battery when an important data transfer is going on. By following these cybersecurity practices, remote workers can make the most of their work environment.
Conclusion: Remote Cybersecurity is Essential
Cybersecurity is a critical component in remote working. Employees need to ensure that they are following the guidelines to work from a remote location safely. Since remote working is going to become the new normal, cybersecurity will take the frontier in configuration and setup for remote employees.
Published at DZone with permission of Shardul Bhatt. See the original article here.
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