The advent of remote work has been revolutionary, and its widespread adoption has influenced a different approach to hiring and managing a workforce. As a trend that grew popular due to the pandemic, remote work has changed lives and led to a better work-life balance for employees and employers. A significant upsurge in employees’ productivity ensures that more organizations adopt remote work as their default work system.
While remote work as a work practice and arrangement is becoming more widespread many global leaders fear remote work poses several risks for organizations, especially cybersecurity risks. According to a Malwarebytes Labs report, 20% of organizations experienced a security breach because of a remote worker.
Remote work arguably introduces new categories of cybersecurity risks. There is an increase in phishing attacks and data breaches when working remotely. Also, managing sensitive information requires a unique approach to remote work. Therefore, educating remote employees on efficient and essential security best practices and protocols is vital for every remote organization.
This article highlights the best practices organizations can employ to ensure adequate security protocols for remote teams and actions remote workers can implement to remain safe while working remotely.
Cybersecurity risks of working from home
One of the fundamental benefits of remote work is the flexibility it allows employees to carry out their tasks wherever and whenever possible. However, this flexibility also makes security everyone’s responsibility. While employers may find it challenging not to be solely in charge of the organization’s security, the good news is that if the organization equips remote employees with the right security tools, skills and resources, cybersecurity risks will be significantly mitigated.
Below, we look at some potential security threats remote employees may fall victim to.
Phishing and email scams
Phishing scams involve sending fraudulent emails that appear to be from trustworthy and reputable sources with the intention to gain access to sensitive data or install malware on the organization’s server. The emails often look credible, but when users click the links or respond, they gain access to steal or install malicious malware.
Due to the popularity of these scams, organizations usually take proactive steps to educate and provide employees with sufficient training against phishing scams. However, remote employees are most susceptible to these scams as their form of communication is primarily asynchronous.
Using unsecured internet networks
When employees work remotely, sometimes they do so from public cafes, co-working spaces, or their homes. From these locations, they utilize public and unsecured internet connections, which can be dangerous. The dangers of using unsecured and public internet networks include capturing a user’s ID and passwords, launching malicious malware, redirecting to a phishing website and accessing the user's computer.
Distribution of unencrypted files
A crucial modus operandi of remote work is sharing files among team members. While file sharing enhances collaboration, boosts productivity and allows for creativity, an error in peer-to-peer file sharing can create a loophole for hackers to infiltrate the organization’s work system. Therefore remote organizations need to have a strict file-sharing policy and ensure employees encrypt their work computers.
When working remotely, remote employees are sometimes victims of theft in co-working offices, homes or any public spaces they work from. If the work computer is not encrypted or protected, it leads to the exposure of sensitive office data.
Weak security passwords
A weak security password can potentially put the organization’s security at risk, even if all security protocols are in place. A fine example of weak passwords is using one password across multiple platforms.
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Best practices for remote work security
Create and enforce a strict security policy
Human negligence is among the most common reasons for data breaches and insecurity. As much as hackers are dangerous, security breaches only occur due to an employee’s negligence.
Creating a strict remote work security policy is crucial. The security policies involve the best strategies that ensure the organization is not susceptible to data leakages and violations. Some essential security policies include data and email encryption, strictly work computers’ provision, secured wireless networks' utilization and employee security training.
Ensure employees use strong passwords
According to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), some of the commonly used passwords are “12345” and “11111”. While these passwords are easy to memorize, weak passwords are detrimental to any person with sensitive information. Training your employees to use hard-to-use and varied passwords is a first step to ensuring security breaches are not a function of weak passwords. Also, organizations should invest in proper password managers, so employees have a better safekeeping of their passwords.
Use multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor authentication is a verification process that requires users to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to sensitive data. Rather than just requesting usernames and passwords, the MFA requires the user to input other verification information. In case of a password compromise, the other verification processes will ensure hackers do not have access to sensitive information.
Provide security tools for employees
Providing remote employees with all the tools and resources required to aid their security compliance is crucial in ensuring the maximum security of company information. Security tools include access to password managers, encrypted work computers, antivirus software, VPN and more. With all the right tools and resources, the organization will significantly reduce the chances of security breaches.
Train employees on essential security protocols
Efficient remote work security begins with adequate training for employees. Ensure your employees are equipped with crucial cybersecurity best practices and are familiar with handling suspicious online activities.
Partnering with a security-conscious Employer of Record platform
The primary function of an Employer of Record platform is to enable organizations to hire contractors and full-time employees without setting up a subsidiary. In addition, an Employer of Record ensures organizations onboard talent, manage payroll, and comply with country-specific employment laws and regulations.
When choosing an Employer of Record to build a remote team or for global expansion, organizations should consider selecting the platform with top-notch security protocols as a crucial service offering.
With Skuad’s global employment and payroll platform, organizations can compliantly hire, onboard, and manage payroll with the assurance that IP and data security is at the heart of their business operations.
Skuad efficiently handles an organization’s entire employment lifecycle and ensures that organizations can scale business operations without any fear of security breaches. To know more about Skuad, book a demo today.