The most substantial challenge for a business with a remote workforce is the increased risk of a security breach when the technology is not implemented correctly, or security protocols are not followed. This can leave a company vulnerable to viruses and ransomware, data breaches, or reputational loss? However, these threats can easily be avoided with proper technology implementation and employee training. Here is a look at a few threats facing remote employees and how to protect your data while working remotely:
One of the top security risks is workers using their personal devices to work from home, rather than having a company-issued device. Employees use their personal devices to access company data remotely and connect virtual private networks (VPN) or email accounts. However, these personal devices are often shared with several people who do not receive proper security training, creating a potential risk.
Many important updates for antivirus/anti-malware on a personal device are regularly overlooked and not installed. A personal PC with outdated antivirus that is connecting to a firewall that’s just a few years old, could prove to be a real risk of a hacker trying to gain access to the company’s network and install malware or also hijack a device and hold it ransom.
Another risk to consider when trying to protect your data working remotely is workers using old or outdated devices. These machines are not being patched or having their software updated to cover any potential risks, which leaves your company’s networks overexposed and can cause a severe liability. For example, a healthcare professional accessing their work email via their personal mobile phone and in that email inbox lives an overabundance of patient information. That same employee then chooses to upgrade their personal phone for the latest device. Did the employee wipe the phone clean before it was turned in? Was HIPAA-protected data on the phone? Is someone else using that outdated device?
One of the scariest data protection risks for remote users to use public WiFi while accessing corporate networks on any device. Public WiFi is available anywhere and makes it super easy to access the internet from anywhere. However, many of these simple networks are unencrypted, allowing sensitive or private information to be transmitted from a device to the WiFi access point in cleartext.
For example, an employee’s device connected to an unsecured community WiFi has now allowed access to their device from other infected or malicious devices on the same network. If your remote employee’s device doesn’t have the proper security elements installed and configured, this scenario and many others can pose a significant risk to your company network.
Here are 8 simple tips to protect your data while working remotely.
- Use a hotspot instead of public WiFi.
- Avoid logging into sensitive websites (i.e., banking, credit cards, etc.) or company networks when connected to public WiFi.
- Never leave your mobile device unattended in a public place.
- When using a browser to surf, always ensure traffic URL is encrypted and begins with HTTPS://
- When using public WiFi, verify the WiFi connection name is legit by asking the business that owns the WiFi access point the name. Malicious actors will often impersonate legit WiFi names by using a similar name.
- Don’t take sensitive business calls or work from confidential documents when someone could be physically shoulder surfing or eavesdropping.
- Make sure your employees are using up-to-date hardware that is company-owned.
- Ensure that your employees are appropriately trained in cybersecurity threats.
Want to learn more about how to protect your data while working remotely? Contact our team here.