Remote workplaces confer benefits like higher productivity and morale, but they also introduce new security concerns. If you want to take advantage of all the benefits, while minimizing the risks, you need to put together a new kind of security management strategy.
The Increased Risks of a Remote Workplace
The first step of developing a security strategy for your remote workplace is understanding the increased risks associated with a distributed work environment.
When your workers are all working remotely, you’re going to have less transparency into their day-to-day operations. You’ll have less control over their physical devices and over the networks they use to send and receive information. Your technological infrastructure will no longer be centralized, so you’re going to be much more dependent on individual actions and distributed systems to do the heavy lifting in your security approach.
How to Reduce Security Risks in a Remote Workplace
So what are the best ways to reduce the security risks associated with your remote workplace?
1. Hire an expert. First, consider hiring an IT services provider that provides security and systems management services. If you hire an expert to provide consulting, you’ll have much greater transparency into your biggest security risks and an operational arm that can help you put better security measures in place – and enforce them. It might seem expensive at first, but it can save you tons of money and time in the long run.
2. Conduct a thorough risk assessment. Whether you choose to hire a professional or do all the work internally, it’s important to conduct a thorough risk assessment. There are some general security risks that all businesses face, but there will be specific risks tied to your business and your team that you need to understand in detail. From there, you’ll be able to put together a security management strategy that serves as a perfect fit for your needs. This way, you’ll close all the gaps in your security strategy – without overspending in the process.
3. Use VPNs and firewalls. If all your employees are accessing your servers and your data remotely, it’s a good idea to install better virtual private networks (VPNs) and firewalls. These tools help you control and protect traffic, giving you greater transparency and control over who accesses your data and minimizing the potential threat of someone intercepting transmitted data.
4. Educate your employees. Even a single weak link within your organization could be responsible for a cybersecurity catastrophe. Accordingly, it’s important to educate and train all your employees on the importance of cybersecurity. Your employees should all, individually, understand best practices for digital security and the common scams and threats they may face while working for this organization. For example, phishing is still incredibly common – but it’s painfully easy to spot once you know what to look for.
5. Turn on multifactor authentication. All your devices and software systems should be protected by multifactor authentication. In other words, your employees should be forced to identify themselves in multiple ways before they’re granted access to anything. This way, if an employee loses track of a device, or if a nefarious third party gets access to a password, all is not lost.
6. Encourage strong password management. Speaking of passwords, make sure all your employees are practicing strong password management. Each password should be totally unique; it’s a bad idea to use the same password for multiple different applications. Additionally, strong passwords have a seemingly random assortment of many different characters with no discernible patterns. Those passwords are also very long; each character added to the chain increases the complexity of the password, making it harder to break.
7. Write a formal device policy. How are your employees responsible for managing devices? Can they use a personal device for work purposes? Can they use a work device on their home network? What are the responsible best practices that employees should be following when using a work device in public? Be as specific and thorough as possible when writing your formal device management policy.
8. Make use of privacy controls for content and conferences. If you have access to privacy controls, use them. Make sure users only have access to content that is relevant to them, and block external access do any content with sensitive information. Along similar lines, it’s important to make all your videoconferences private, so you don’t have to deal with any unwanted visitors.
9. Practice remote monitoring. Instate remote monitoring to keep an eye on your employees’ activities and get alerts for any aberrant traffic patterns. This way, if you notice something “off,” you can take action before it’s too late.
10. Keep all devices and systems updated. Updated devices and systems have much more robust protection against all kinds of security threats. Ideally, all your technologies will be set to update automatically whenever a new update is available.
There’s no such thing as a security strategy or a set of policies that will keep your business perfectly secure. No matter what, there are going to be flaws and weaknesses to contend with. But if you follow these steps and keep everyone in your remote organization in line with your company