Appointing a remote workforce? See how you can mitigate security risks!

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Remote work is an effective prospect for companies who want to increase productivity while reducing work stress for their employees. Apart from realizing greater employee efficiency, remote work allows C-suite executives to cut overhead expenses that come with managing an onsite workforce. Even IT professionals endorse the fact that remote work is here to stay, even though they’re adamant that it poses a security risk. 

According to a 2018 report by Veriato, “ Data is no longer just an IT asset; it’s a core strategic asset and some types of data are more valuable than others. Confidential business information, which encompasses company financials along with customer and employee data, is a highly strategic asset and equally a high-value target.” This goes to show how important data and security have become in today’s hyper-technological world. Let’s see how security risks can be managed and mitigated while appointing a remote workforce. 

SOFTWARE

Multi-factor authentication should be enabled on all hardware as well as cloudware and software. Users need an optimum platform for complete security. If corporate IT policy requires it, software and systems should be set up to auto-update so users do not miss crucial security patches. The US Department of Homeland Security states that 90% of security incidents are caused by an exploit in software. 

According to Cisco, email is still the most popular way to spread viruses and malware. Effective email security should include the ability to detect, block and remediate threats. The email should also have end-to-end encryption to protect sensitive information. 

USE OF PERSONAL TECHNOLOGY- BRING YOUR OWN DEVICE (BYOD)

More companies every day are implementing rules involving how personal technology can be used in the workplace. Some companies are eliminating it altogether. The bottom line to consider is this: If your employee is working at home and using their own device, have you set them up with the necessary security? 

For remote workers, it is advantageous to provide them with their equipment. This allows more control for security. If they resign, it is easier to regain control of proprietary information. If a company allows workers to use their own technology, policies should be in place for security. 

If an employee is allowed to use their personal phone for work, it should be equipped with adequate protection. If an employee is using their own computer they should be provided with adequate backup and recovery software.

NETWORK

A software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is an effective way to secure your network. It has lower operational costs and improves resources, by letting network administrators manage bandwidth. This approach enables remote workers to connect over secure VPNs to do their work without sacrificing security or privacy. 

All connections made by remote workers should be through a VPN that uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), or IPsec (Internet Protocol Security). With all traffic going through a VPN, viruses, malware, and threats are automatically blocked before they get to your device. 

Secure internet gateways (SIG) should be implemented to provide cloud security. This is very important, as 70% of attacks are “distinct to the organization”. Cloud computing is picking up the pace and so should an organization’s protection. Cloud application security can be managed by a cloud-access security broker (CASB). This tool functions as a gateway between on-premise and cloud applications. It also identifies harmful applications and protects against them. 

Within the network, remote workers should be monitored to see what they are doing online and how they are doing it (within reason). How are they accessing files? How are they communicating? This information can be used to develop security that meets the needs of your company. 

EMPLOYEES NOT UNDERSTANDING GOOD PRACTICES

Remote workers should require to work on secure systems for the good of all stakeholders. Not understanding encryption, good password practices, or leaving their computer unprotected is bad practice. Remote workers need to be educated on good practices. 

Employees should understand that downloading free applications or mobile apps can affect their security. Only approved software and apps should be used. Employees should avoid using public WIFI. This is inviting an attack. Hackers can place themselves as an intermediary between the worker and the WIFI. They then have access to everything on their computer. 

It is important that work data is kept separate from personal data. Employees should be educated on the Denial of Service (DOS). This is when an employee thinks they cannot log on, then goes through steps to reset their passwords or usernames. Anytime an employee feels they have been compromised they should immediately shut down the device. Employees should never share their work computers while working at home. It is impossible to monitor the websites other members choose to visit. Home networks should be properly secured since they are easy to hack.

PASSWORDS

Remote employees should have strong passwords for everything. Weak or duplicate passwords are a security risk. Almost 75% of workers report they use the same passwords for multiple accounts. This makes a hacker’s job easier. 

It is recommended to have a company-paid password system. These services protect your passwords by storing login information off-site. If a password is needed, you must go through this company. 

Having an effective password policy can be one of the single most important pieces of security. Companies must use multi-factor authentication, check passwords against dictionaries of bad choices, not mandate periodic changes without a good reason. 

HAVE A REMOTE ACCESS POLICY

Every company should have a remote access policy that has guidelines for “requesting, obtaining, using, and terminating remote access to networks, systems, and data.” These policies should apply to in-house and off-site operations. 

This policy should be controlled and managed by the employer. These should not be left to employees to figure it out on their own. They should be educated and trained on all pertinent security issues. This policy should grow as your company grows or adds new technology and it can be easily accessed by employees. 

Privacy and security have become a challenge for digital nomads, companies and clients alike. If you work remotely, chances are that you will have to comply with many policies and regulations. Implementing these successfully is a task in itself. The security risks discussed above are mostly arising because employers cannot effectively monitor their employees for compliance. 

ADOPT A REMOTE WORKFORCE CONFIDENTLY WITH REMOTEDESK

Remotedesk is an AI-based solution that securely identifies and safeguards the privacy of a work-from-home agent. It prevents malicious insider breaches and delivers a “Clean Desk” environment to facilitate remote work. 

  

For employers: 

  • Remotedesk integrates seamlessly into remote work processes and plugs right into VPNs, VDIs, Extranets, etc. to streamline workflow. 
  • Verify the identity of your workers with multi-factor biometric authentication upon entry, and facial recognition throughout. Detect illicit behavior by tracking web activity and keystrokes (i.e. copy/paste, print-screen, etc.), and monitoring their workspace. 
  • Identify patterns of misconduct with flagged reports of compliance infractions detected by Remotedesk, complete with screenshot evidence & time-stamped video playback. 

  

For employees: 

  • Keep your schedule flexible and save money on commute. 
  • Remotedesk is available anytime, anywhere, on-demand with auxiliary breaks whenever you want, at the click of a button. 
  • Verify Billable Hours: prove the time you put in and get paid for it. 

  

Remote work is becoming increasingly commonplace and it will soon become a necessity than a trend. All in all, a comprehensive set of security measures is vital for organizations. Businesses have to address security threats and confidentiality issues while appointing a remote workforce. Employees also have to adhere to security measures and company policies to make sure everything runs smoothly. A secure and compliant work environment can reward both sides equally, as long as everything is monitored and managed properly. Remotedesk resolves these challenges by mitigating the risk of data breaches and monitoring remote employees for policy compliance. 

Remotedesk delivers remote worker management, while providing clear transparency, accountability & risk management for outsourcing initiatives.