With remote teams well on their way to redefining the nature of work, these are the best cybersecurity practices for remote teams.
Cybersecurity Training and Awareness
Most employees, remote or otherwise, and likely the majority of people, could do with a review course in the latest cybersecurity trends and threats. Hackers and malicious actors are almost awe-inspiringly inventive, and new methods to steal data, gain unauthorized access and wreak havoc are concocted on an almost daily basis.
While many remote teams will undoubtedly do much of their work on company-provided devices, networks and servers, a great many will also be using personal devices and connections. One threat remote workers should be always on the lookout for is Google Form Phishing, which fools you into thinking you are filling out a legitimate Google form asking for potentially sensitive information.
Put More Focus on Authentication and Authorization
With more people accessing sensitive proprietary and customer data remotely–from their homes, co-working spaces, libraries and wherever else remote teams choose to work–the issue of authentication becomes even more central.
Strong passwords are always a cybersecurity best practice, but they become even more necessary when remote team members are operating on unsecured and potentially even public networks. Many people make the mistake of using the same or highly similar passwords for all of their logins across applications and devices. A best practice is to create sophisticated alphanumeric passwords and entrust them to a password manager like LastPass to make logging-in safe and easy.
Make Use of VPNs
Virtual Private Networks are best known outside of the world of cybersecurity for allowing people to get around geographical restrictions on certain sites and platforms. But they are, first and foremost, valuable cybersecurity tools that should be incorporated into any remote team’s security best practices.
A VPN also encrypts all of your internet traffic, making it indecipherable to anyone who might try to intercept it. When you are passing around sensitive company data between employees all day every day, not having your data encrypted is a real risk. Not only that but, in light of things like dynamic pricing–the online sales tactic whereby sites charge different customers different prices for things based on IP data–using a VPN to obscure your location could save you money on the products and services you purchase online to run your business.
Get Employees to Secure Their Routers
People working from home typically work through a router which is often used by multiple other devices in the same home. A lot of people fail to change the password that came with their router when it was first installed, which represents a potential vulnerability. Have your remote team members change that.
There are additional router security measures your team can take too, including making sure that any firmware patches are up-to-date, the router’s encryption is set to either WPA2 or WPA3, that both inbound and outbound traffic is restricted, and WPS is turned off. If they are using work devices and work data plans, also ensure they are not setting up unsecured portable hotspots and sharing those with friends or family.
Always Install Updates
Installing them can be a pain, but software updates are important because they very often feature important security patches that remedy security shortcomings or vulnerabilities that were discovered since the last version came out.
Make sure your remote team members understand that you expect them to always install these new security updates. If they like, they can set their updates to take place automatically while they are asleep so that they don’t have to sit around and wait for them.
Pay for Firewall Protection
Many offices have both their own servers and firewalls and depending on the budget, in-house IT and cybersecurity experts to keep it up-to-date and functional. Remote work makes security more complicated. Cybersecurity can be expensive, and businesses should bear the cost of cybersecurity for remote employees.
Whether you provide the money upfront or reimburse employees after the fact, investing in a good quality firewall should be considered a non-negotiable cybersecurity best practice. If you don’t want to pay for firewall protection there are well-respected free options available as well.
Whether the nature of your business model was moving your organization towards increased remote work and the pandemic simply sped up the process, or you have been forced to reconsider how you work because of the world we now live in, don’t neglect your cybersecurity. Remote teams pose unique cybersecurity threats and hackers and exploiters know this. Keep the above cybersecurity best practices for remote teams in mind and make your transition into remote work as safe and stress-free as possible.