Measures You Must Take to Protect Remote Workers
by Sean Curiel, on Apr 15, 2020 4:30:00 AM
In today's rapidly changing business landscape, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to adapt to government-mandated stay-at-home orders. These orders are aimed at limiting the spread of the virus, but they also present new challenges, particularly in terms of data security. As employees transition to remote work for the first time, they find themselves far from the safety of their IT experts, making them vulnerable to various cyber threats such as malicious websites, fake apps, ransomware attacks, phishing schemes, and more.
Cybercriminals are quick to exploit this newfound vulnerability, making it imperative for businesses to take immediate action to secure their network endpoints. The protection of remote workers is crucial to the overall progress and functioning of businesses in this new environment. In this article, we will explore eight essential measures that organizations must implement to safeguard their remote workforce.
Firstly, it is crucial to enact strict policies regarding the use of technology. As personal and work worlds collide, employees may be tempted to use everyday tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, and local software. However, recent security concerns surrounding platforms like Zoom have highlighted the importance of IT administrators specifying which tools are vetted and authorized for official use. Technologies beyond the sysadmin's management ability should not be accepted, and employees should acknowledge their understanding of the agreed-upon security policy.
Next, it is essential to ensure that all operating systems, applications, and communication technologies are regularly updated with the latest security patches. This includes software such as web browsers, collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, and the platform used for video conferencing. Businesses should adopt a patch-management platform like ManageEngine to keep track of device updates and require a system health check before granting access to the network.
To enhance threat prevention, organizations should encourage the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) with encryption. By creating a secure point-to-point tunnel between remote employees and the company network, VPNs make endpoints less visible to hackers. This allows employees to conveniently access resources as if they were physically present in the office, even when connecting to exposed public Wi-Fi. The encryption of data ensures that even if intercepted, it remains unusable.
In addition to strong passwords, multi-factor authentication should be enforced to secure endpoints at a necessary level. Remote workers should be required to provide multiple pieces of information to prove their identity. Adding personalized questions before the standard login process can significantly improve security.
Having a well-defined security response plan is crucial when dealing with threats like ransomware or data breaches. In the event of an attack, the technical team's response must be swift. Establishing direct communication channels, such as dedicated emails or phone lines, for remote workers to obtain technical support and report issues is essential. Organizations should build a clear action plan to prevent further damage, restore functionality, and retrieve critical data.
Standardizing on a specific antivirus solution that can be centrally managed is essential to protect home systems used by employees. While employees may be tempted to use various antivirus solutions, IT administrators should mandate a single solution that prevents different forms of malware and guards work systems against threats introduced through removable devices.
To ensure the safety of critical data stored in various locations, organizations should implement a centrally monitored backup solution like NovaBACKUP. This enables system administrators to monitor backup status and data health from anywhere. Backup jobs can be automated to capture daily changes and stored on dedicated servers or cloud locations like NovaBACKUP Cloud, OneDrive, or Azure.
Lastly, providing new education is paramount when it comes to remote workers. Employees must have a thorough understanding of how their behavior at remote locations can significantly impact business data security. By educating employees on common security threats and how they can gain access to their systems, businesses can create awareness and promote responsible remote work practices. Explaining the concept of penetration testing and how the IT team utilizes it to assess the company's response to modern threats can further enhance security measures.
In conclusion, protecting employees from threats like ransomware and data breaches requires careful planning and implementation of a comprehensive strategy. By following these eight measures, businesses can not only ensure physical security but also foster a long-term positive shift in remote worker habits. As the modern workplace continues to evolve with dispersed workforces, prioritizing data security will be vital for the success and resilience of businesses in an increasingly digital world.