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Improving Telecommuting Workers’ Data Security

    Remote work, in one shape or form, is definitely in the future. However, it’s not enough for organizations especially small ones to extend the remote work options that are pandemic-era indefinitely. There’s a good reason to do so.

    According to cybersecurity company Malwarebytes that a total of 19.8 percent of companies experienced data breaches after switching to remote working arrangements. The reason is quite clear. Remote work infrastructure that is quickly deployed is usually filled with security risks. A clear policy on access to data and insufficient employee training can also be contributing factors.

    Establish a Cybersecurity Policy

    The first step in securing the company’s data is to ensure that employees are aware that the security of data is an important concern. In reality, certain employees today may not realize that the security of data is something they ought to be worried about at the personal as well as professional level.

    If employees think they’re not directly working with the data of customers or are not working at the top of the corporate hierarchy, they do not have to be concerned about the security of data. Companies cannot presume that their employees are knowledgeable about cybersecurity, or what their roles are in it.

    The most effective way to start is by creating a security policy. Make it mandatory for all new and current employees to read and sign the policy regardless of whether they work remotely or otherwise.

    Consider rethinking Security Operations Centers (SOCs) and workflows.

    COVID-19 has demonstrated that businesses must think beyond security operations and solutions that require physical presence. A lot of companies have built central SOCs with dedicated teams that are based in one place to recognize, respond to, and stop security threats. The current security environment, however, emphasizes the necessity for security experts to be remote or work from locations that are geographically dispersed.

    To get this capability, install a cloud-based security stack that allows SOC teams to spot weaknesses, apply patches, and test configurations remotely using the cloud. Companies that have these capabilities have an advantage when it comes to adapting to the changing environment. Other organizations are also making progress in this direction, using software-defined or cloud-based models to enhance their security capabilities as well as business continuity and resiliency to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

    Keep Work Data on Work Computers.

    Are you thinking of tackling some emails from your home before going to the bed? If you’re taking the precautions of working from your laptop computer with secure Wi-Fi or the VPN or secure drives, antivirus, and endpoint protection, it could be perfectly okay. However, it is tempting to access your personal computer even if the work computer is located in a different room or you’ve forgotten your charger in the office. This could be a danger for your company as well as for you!

    If you are employed by an organization that has an effective IT department, they could be installing updates regularly or running antivirus scans and blocking harmful websites as well. This is a process that could be transparent to you. There’s a good possibility that you’ve not followed the same procedures with your personal computer that are essential at work.

    Additionally, your business can probably afford more advanced technology that you can control personally. In the absence of these controls operating in the background, your personal computer isn’t secure for information that is used at work because it is susceptible to being compromised by a third party. In essence, by connecting the personal computer to an office network and even remotely, you’ve put the network at risk and you’re taking on the risk of massive corporate losses due to violations of company policies, practices, or either.

    Remote Work Security Challenges

    There are three categories of risk for remote teams, as well as the next steps businesses can take to enhance their defensive strategies.

    Insider Threats

    Before the time that remote working was commonplace malicious and, accidental insider threats were a major threat to the security of data. As members of a trusted team employees have access to both customer and company information. This, if left unchecked, could undermine the company’s, customers’, and employees’ privacy.

    The risks are increased when working remotely.

    The effects of the pandemic on job opportunities have led to malicious insiders being more likely to collect or compromise information to increase their influence over new job possibilities or to earn an additional income. Additionally, insiders who are not aware of their actions are particularly susceptible to errors while working from remote locations.

    Additional Work-from-Home Cybersecurity Tips

    Monitor employees’ remote-work practices. “Any potential for mischief or data abuse may be heightened in a work-from-home environment,” Rembiesa stated. “Remember that most data breaches are caused by insiders, not outside hackers.”
    Beware of scams that are used in fake emails.

    “Remind users to be suspicious of e-mails from unknown sources and to not open file attachments or click on links,” AlertLogic’s Birk advised. “Stress the fact that cybercriminals will seek to capitalize on the current chaos, and make sure people know to exercise extreme caution with any e-mail that asks for credentials or other sensitive information.”

    Protect sensitive information like personnel, medical or financial records stored on, transferred to, or received via remote devices. “Full-disk encryption of the computer’s hard drive ensures that even if the device falls into the wrong hands, the company’s data is not accessible,” Anscombe explained.
    Conduct cybersecurity awareness training and ensure that IT resources are adequately staffed.

    Remote employees must have access to the contact information of crucial IT personnel who security incidents may be reported, and who can help with technical problems. “Remote workers need to have clear communication protocols for IT support and crisis management if they encounter unusual or suspect issues that could be the result of a breach,” Anscombe stated.

    Final thoughts

    Let’s put it in perspective. It is known that telecommuting is a fact of life. It’s an inevitable fact because of the COVID-19 epidemic. Major corporations, like Google, Amazon, and Twitter have all said they actively encourage their employees to work from their homes as long as they can. This is an era of change that will make telecommuting a regular part of our daily lives, even after the pandemic has slowed down.

    How do we handle security threats? One, use the security features on teleconferencing software. Two, make sure your employees are using VPNs and encryption functions in all of your corporate applications. Three, make use of multi-factor authentication so that the security of your employees is not compromised by allowing intruders to imitate them and gain access to your company’s information. Four, teach your employees on most effective cybersecurity practices to protect privacy and security. Five, develop business continuity and disaster recovery plans to help with recovery after an attack by hackers.

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