5 Best Practices to Keep Your Remote Work Environment Secure

remote work

Jul 28, 2020

There are many perks to working from home, especially right now with the COVID-19 pandemic. We all want to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and hey, getting projects done while on the couch in pajamas isn’t too shabby either.
However, there are major WFH challenges that must be taken seriously. One of the most significant of these is ensuring that everyone uses smart, secure network and data security practices. 
Failing to do so can quickly lead to an unexpected disaster.

Most home offices just aren’t set up to protect your company in the same way as a corporate office with an in-house IT department. This oversight can lead to quick and severe consequences for your business, your employees, and your customers including:

  • Stolen customer data
  • Phishing scams
  • Malware
  • Leaked financial information
  • Network hacks and breaches

With the enablement of a remote workforce comes a lot of steep learning curves, technological stumbling, and, perhaps less well-known, security risks. 

Start here, with a few high-level best practices for securing your organization’s remote environment:

Install updates. Particularly if you’re working from a computer you already own but don’t typically use for office work, please check that all updates and patches to Microsoft®, Adobe®, and other critical software applications have been installed. We
know, updates take time, and it’s all-too-convenient to click ‘Remind Me Later.’ However, many vulnerabilities exist in out-of-date software and are the perfect entry-point for a
hacker. You must protect the data that you are entrusted to
access. Keep it safe by ensuring your software is up to date.

Use the virtual private network (VPN) at all times. We understand that it’s just one more thing that you need to do before you can work. Think of it as your seatbelt when
you get in the car to drive. That extra moment it takes could be the moment that saved your office network from an attack. And don’t forget to re-engage the VPN every time
you log on. It’s easy to put your computer to sleep when you walk away to grab lunch, forgetting that you’ ve logged off the VPN.

Turn off automatic connections on your Wi-Fi. One easy way for hackers to gain access to your computer is Wi-Fi spoofing. For example, let’s say you routinely
connect to ‘Joe’s Wi-Fi,’ so much that to save time, you click the button that says, ‘Connect Automatically.’ A hacker can set up a portal called ‘Joe’s Wi-Fi,’ and your computer may unwittingly connect automatically to that portal because it has been identified as a safe network.

Lock your computer.
When you aren’t using your computer, just like at the office, lock the computer to keep family, friends, and maybe even the kids next door from accessing your company data. And while you are thinking about computer use, please remember that your company computer is for business use only. While it might be convenient to check the news or
order takeout, please limit personal use and do not allow friends and family to use your work computer. Something as simple as a local restaurant's takeout menu could end
up being a malicious file that exposes your computer to malware.

Use a password manager.
If your company offers a password manager, please don’t forget to use it to create and store passwords. The goal is to avoid saving passwords in the browser that can be easily swiped. We know sometimes it’s easier to save it in the form or use the same passwords for different sites or forego using multi-factor authentication where it is offered. However, sacrificing the convenience is well worth it to avoid a security incident and loss of data. Oh, and remember that using a spreadsheet to save your passwords isn’t much better than saving them in the browser forms. Avoid that when you can.

Keeping your company safe and providing remote work opportunities is an interesting balance of connectivity and tight security. By providing devices, training, and regular malware screening you can help remote employees and ensure company-wide data security. For more insights on how to implement a secure remote and telecommuting workforce, contact us today!