September 17, 2021

Eric Shepperd

Cybersecurity concerns your employees need to know when your business goes remote

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a significant change in how both employers and employees have had to adapt to keep businesses running. With remote work becoming the new normal, companies have been forced to permit their employees to work from home. After all, data security is hard to maintain if your employees work on a family computer since the browsing habits of others in the household have the potential to compromise sensitive business data. What’s more, cybercriminals have been taking advantage of the global concern regarding the Coronavirus. For example, phishing attacks increased by 40% in Italy when the pandemic just hit. In such a scenario, it is essential to be aware of the cybersecurity concerns your employees need to know when your business goes remote.

1. Be wary about public WiFis

Remote workers should make an effort to restrict themselves to working from their homes or other secure networks. Public WiFi networks that are typically available at libraries, cafes, and other public places may be free. However, they are likely to be insecure. Internet traffic in such public networks is not encrypted. As a result, hackers tend to target such environments, and your business data may get compromised. You should ensure that your employees avoid such public WiFi environments. If they do use public WiFis, it is imperative for them to get a free VPN download to ensure that they access the internet via a secure tunnel and all the data they access is encrypted.

2. Remote employee access to sensitive data should be restricted

Employee access to business data should be restricted depending upon their need. When working in a remote access scenario, only specific employees should be granted access to only those network sections that are relevant for them to carry out their tasks. Access to highly sensitive and valuable business data should, in an ideal situation, be given only to trusted employees and members of the management who follow the company’s security protocols. If such a graded form of access is not enforced in a business, cybercriminals may easily access sensitive business data. Such access should be reviewed periodically by the IT department in discussions with the company management.

3. Software should be updated on a regular basis

Cybercriminals can easily hack an old and outdated software program. When working in an office environment, it is relatively straightforward for a company’s IT department to enforce regular software updates for all the devices in the office network. In a remote work scenario, where employees are scattered, ensuring that devices and associated software are updated regularly may be challenging. However, this is a critical step to ensure that your employees don’t get targeted by hackers. Specifically, your employees should be guided appropriately to ensure that their operating systems, antimalware, and antivirus programs are updated with the latest upgrades and security patches. Your company should also hold regular training programs to educate your employees on the importance of regularly updating software.

4. Recognize phishing attempts

Cybercriminals have increasingly turned to phishing attempts to try and gain access to the recipient’s device. A phishing attack is a practice of sending fraudulent communication that appears to have been sent by a reputable source like company management, personal contacts, or other trusted senders. The objective is to fool the victim into clicking on a link or going to a scam website to download malware or steal the victim’s confidential information. In such a scenario, your employees should recognize phishing attempts and report them to your IT department. In fact, with Covid-19 related cyberattacks on the rise, there are specific steps your employees should take to protect themselves while working from home.

5. Your employees should not use weak passwords and be encouraged to enable two-factor authentication

Passwords are usually the weakest link in a company’s security protocols. Today, with multiple software needing passwords to grant access, it’s human nature to reuse passwords and keep them as simple as possible. However, there are software programs that can crack the majority of weak passwords very quickly. Hence, your employees should practice good password etiquette as a first step. Furthermore, they should be encouraged to enable two-factor authentication (2FA), which will add an extra layer of protection, as 2FA requires an additional action after entering their password.