Tips for Keeping Company Data Safe when Working Remotely

Shred-It’s 2018 State of the Industry Report states that 86% of business management executives tend to believe remote workers increase an organization’s chances for a data security breach. Before working from home became a trend, IT infrastructure used to be unified. Employees operated in their offices out of secure PC applications housed in the same network. Now that we are enjoying fast internet, affordable smart devices like laptops, and smartphone apps, remote work has gone from being an unpopular workplace custom to a standard component of many employees’ workweek.

Why Companies are Increasingly Adopting the Work-From-Home Culture

According to a Gallup survey, 43% of American employees said that they spent at least some time working remotely. Employees and employers who have embraced the work-from-home cultures view the practice as broadly beneficial, citing that flexible work schedules enable remote employees to be more productive. For companies, adopting the work-from-home culture helps to minimize overhead costs, boost recruiting efforts, and increase employee retention.

Security Risks for Remote Employees 

While work-from-home opportunities are an increasingly attractive option for many organizations due to the many benefits they present, they are often the source of network security incidents that are less common when employees work from the office. As remote employees routinely access company data outside the company’s physically secure, centralized IT system, they may intentionally or unintentionally put company data at risk.

So, how can your organization enjoy the benefits that are associated with working remotely while ensuring that company data is safe? Below, we have provided some helpful tips for both employers and employees for keeping company data safe when implementing the work-from-home model.

Cybersecurity Best Practices for Employers

As the employer, the responsibility for keeping your company data safe starts with you. Here are some tips for keeping your company data safe:

1. Establish a cybersecurity policy

The first step to securing company data is to ensure that all employees, both new and existing employees, know that data security is a priority. As the employer, you come up with a strong cybersecurity policy and see to it that employees, whether they work remotely or from the office, have reviewed it and signed it. That way, everyone who is responsible for handling company data will know everything about cybersecurity and their role in it.

2. Secure your internet connections 

Using unsecured internet connections is one of the most common ways to expose your company to cybersecurity threats. To safeguard your company data, you should secure your internet connections by using the right virtual private network.

3. Use strong safeguards to protect your company data

Another way of mitigating cybersecurity risks is by adopting a variety of security measures to secure company data. These measures include using strong passwords, using two-factor authentication for your data security management, using encryption software, and using firewalls, antivirus, and antimalware. It’s also essential to upgrade your security software and operating systems regularly.

4. Conduct cybersecurity risk assessments regularly

A cybersecurity risk assessment is a procedure that is carried out to evaluate the cyber risks of an organization. Performing this assessment is necessary to identify the gaps in your company’s critical risk areas and to determine the actions required to close those gaps. Since the cyber threat landscape keeps evolving, it is crucial to develop a process to periodically re-evaluate your program to reinforce your cybersecurity risk management stance.

5. Train your employees on cybersecurity

According to a Kaspersky report, 52% of companies believe that they are at risk from within. Their employees, whether deliberately or through their ignorance or carelessness, end up putting their companies at risk. One of the first steps to ensure that your employees will not put your company at an increased risk of cyber threats is enlightening them about cybersecurity. Regularly training your employees about the current cybersecurity landscape will help to minimize the probability that they will put your company at risk out of ignorance. Learn how to make cybersecurity training more engaging and lively to ensure the concept is easy to grasp.

Cybersecurity Practices for Remote Employees

To ensure that remote employees do not expose the companies that they work for at an increased risk of cyber threats, they should observe the following cybersecurity best practices:

1. Avoid clicking on suspicious links

One of the popular ways that cybercriminals use to steal data is through phishing. This is a cybersecurity attack where hackers plant suspicious links with malware to seize information. To avoid being victims of phishing attacks, employees should avoid clicking on suspicious links.

2. Keep devices safe

The physical loss of mobile devices is another contributing factor to an increased risk of a company to cyber threats. Remote employees, therefore, should keep the mobile devices they use to access company data. 

3. Never use unsecured wireless networks

Like previously mentioned, using unsecured internet connections increases your vulnerability to cyber threats. To minimize this vulnerability, remote employees should never use unsecured Wi-Fi connections. Instead, they should always ensure that they access company data using virtual private networks or secured internet connections.

4. Avoid using the company devices for personal use

There has to be a boundary between company work and personal work. When remote employees make use of company devices for personal use, they expose the company at an increased risk for cyber attacks. As such, remote employees should avoid using company devices for their use.

5. Use strong passwords for company devices

Using strong passwords is one of the best ways to keep company data out of hackers’ reach. Password-protected devices and apps make it difficult for hackers to access the information that’s stored in the devices. This makes password protection a good security measure that can come in handy in case a remote employee loses a mobile device that he or she uses to access company data.

Final words

Maintaining a safe and secure cybersecurity space is a collective responsibility. Employers must put security measures to protect company data. At the same time, employees must adhere to cybersecurity best practices to ensure that they are not the weak link in the fight against cybersecurity threats.