For most employees, working from home looks different than working at their office.
Adjusting to some of these differences is fairly straightforward. You create a designated workspace within your house. You’ll find a way to minimize distractions. You might even adopt a slightly different schedule.
There are also differences when it comes to remote cybersecurity.
Businesses are at a greater risk of exploitation when they have a remote workforce. Having their employees spread out using individual networks means each user is a unique opportunity for hackers to take advantage of.
At The KR Group, customers have asked us many times what technology they should implement to help secure their remote workforce. Along with suggestions for software, hardware, and configurations, we are also advising businesses on some dos and don’ts:
- Don’t relax on your home network.
- Do use a VPN connection to access on-site files.
- Do consider using next-generation antivirus software.
- Do stay on top of all updates and patches.
- Don’t use your device for anything besides work-related tasks.
- Do open emails with extra caution.
- Don’t use your personal email for business purposes.
- Do your part to keep hackers out of your company network.
These are guidelines everyone should follow when working from home.
We can’t guarantee following all of these guidelines will prevent a breach, but they are a great step toward securing your remote workforce.
1. Don’t relax on your home network
It’s easy to get comfortable when working from home, but one thing you should never relax on is cybersecurity.
Everyone in your business has to do their part to keep attackers from exploiting proprietary information.
This means everyone from the top to the bottom of the organization needs to remember security best practices and follow them as closely as possible while on less secure home networks.
This means double-checking emailed links before clicking them, not downloading files from untrusted sites, and following the practices we discuss in the remainder of this article.
For IT departments, specifically, this means staying on high alert for malicious traffic that makes its way onto your network.
2. Do use a VPN connection to access on-site files
Using this protocol protects your company’s proprietary information by changing users’ IP addresses, encrypting data, and masking locations.
If an attacker gains access to a user’s home network and that user isn’t using a VPN connection, the attacker can follow them onto your network and wreak havoc from there.
The security measures of a VPN connection prevent this scenario, though, and your company’s network remains secure even if someone makes their way onto a user’s network.
3. Do consider using next-generation antivirus software
Antivirus software is a great way to prevent and alert you and your users of a malware attack.
It’s also a legacy security measure, though, which means hackers have found a way around its protection measures.
Next-generation antivirus was created to be better at identifying and preventing the threats that were slipping past traditional antivirus detectors. It does this by using built-in AI learning and endpoint detection response (EDR) to detect and respond to suspicious activity.
Traditional antivirus, on the other hand, is standard-based and relies on known threats, behaviors, and processes. This means if a type of attack is newer than the most recent database update, your antivirus may not catch it.
4. Do stay on top of all updates and patches
If you’re using traditional antivirus, staying on top of updates is important to ensure you always have the most recent list of known threats.
However, antivirus isn’t the only program you need to keep updated.
When it comes to your business software, missing patches and lapsed updates are one of the ways attackers sneak into your network.
From time to time, technology manufacturers and developers find gaps hackers are exploiting. To address these issues, they create an update or patch. Users who don’t install those updates or patches aren’t protected from exploitation, though.
If you’ve been dismissing an update notification, you should update it as soon as possible and plan on implementing future updates when you get the initial notification.
It’s also a good idea to check once a week if you’ve missed any important updates and schedule them as soon as possible.
5. Don’t use your device for anything besides work-related tasks
Even with antivirus in place and your work station fully updated, there isn’t a way to completely mitigate the risk of an attack.
Some of the burden of maintaining a secure network falls on individual users. Everyone can help reduce the risk of an attack by keeping their work stations dedicated for only work purposes.
This means not allowing unauthorized users onto your device, even if it seems as innocent as your child or spouse wanting to check his or her email.
Users also need to keep their own traffic to business-related sites and applications. By reducing the kind of traffic on the company device, you’ll reduce the chances of inadvertently downloading malware and exposing your company network.
6. Do open emails with extra caution
Another area your users need to be vigilant is with their email inboxes.
You should have anti-spam software in place to filter out spam and phishing attacks. Like antivirus, no anti-spam software is 100% effective, though. Your users need to know how to avoid being lured by a phishing email.
Reminding your users what phishing emails will look like and your company policy for reporting one will help keep their home network and your business network secure.
7. Don’t use your personal email for business purposes
Along with opening emails with extra scrutiny, your users should also only use their company email when working remotely.
If your business is following the best practices of a remote workforce, users should be able to connect to their company email to continue connecting to data stored on your company’s network through a VPN connection.
Personal email accounts don’t have the same anti-spam protection and encryption capabilities as enterprise accounts. Proprietary documents are at a higher risk of being intercepted by a hacker, and there is a greater chance of malicious emails showing up in your inbox.
8. Do your part to keep hackers out of your company network
While all these suggestions can help keep your business network secure, it is only possible if every user abides by the recommendations.
It only takes a single person who allows a threat onto his or her device to expose the whole company.
Every user needs to keep security in mind to protect the company from attacks.
Moving forward with a stronger security posture
Cybersecurity is always important for businesses to keep in mind. A remote workforce adds more variables to the equation and increases the need for stricter monitoring and extra scrutiny.
If all of your users follow the tips we’ve outlined about security software, policies, and procedures, your company should be on its way toward improving your remote security posture.
You don’t have to rely on your own means to educate your users on best security practices, though. Consider our employee training on security to teach your users specific ways to keep your network secure.