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Blog: Cybersecurity for Remote Workers

Over the past several years, the concept of the remote worker has evolved from the work-from-home-on-Friday staffer or the home-based business entrepreneur to become a significant part of the workforce across almost all business categories. Remote workers are in the majority: It’s estimated that by 2020, 60 percent of employees will be considered “mobile.” And that doesn’t include those of us who check email over the weekend or field client calls after dinner with the family.

And why not? It’s a business paradigm that’s proving successful. Contrary to earlier employer fears, remote worker productivity is good – often measurably better than in-house counterparts. Employee retention rates increase. Employers have an expanded, even global, talent pool. The need for less office space lowers operational costs. Done well, the ability to work remotely can be a win-win for employer and employee.

Laptops, tablets, and smartphones combined with robust cybernetworks have enabled this revolution in how we do business. However, that same technology also has made us more vulnerable. Emails can be hacked, data breached, and texts intercepted. A lost or misplaced device can bring down a project.

Working remotely is not in and of itself dangerous; it’s a lack of security controls, policies and protocols, and user practices that can get you. As such, cybersecurity is a shared responsibility.

Remote workers have an obligation to adhere to cyber-safe practices. The list of best practices is long and ever-evolving, but here are a few basics that will help protect the integrity of your – and your employer’s – work:

  • Know and adhere to your employer’s network and technology policies. For example, if you are required to change your password every month, do it.
  • Do not use public Wi-Fi access. These unsecured networks are prime for hackers to get into your system and access data, including log-ons and passwords.
  • Never share a password in writing. Sharing passwords is a bad idea anyway, but doing so via an email or text is just asking for trouble.
  • Secure your devices, especially in public. Anyone can tap your spacebar to see your screen while you refill your coffee … or just as easily walk out the door with your device.

However, the real onus of cybersecurity for remote workers is on the employer. To survive in this tech-driven, mobile business world, employers need to develop secure systems and policy-based standards of practice that protect everyone. For example:

  • Have an enforceable technology acceptable use policy that employees must sign, and review/update the policy regularly. Make sure they know the specifics of the policy and consequences of violations. Workers cannot comply with what they don’t know.
  • Use a two-factor authentication process for all remote access into your system. This could be as simple as a log-in/password plus a 4-digit code sent to a smartphone.
  • Manage your risk by being able to track your remote workers’ devices. Lost/stolen devices can be traced and/or wiped of all data remotely if needed.
  • Discourage – better yet, prohibit – the use of public Wi-Fi access.
  • At a minimum, set up a VPN system for remote access.
  • Encrypt emails.
  • Require regular password changes, and change the company’s default password frequently as well.

Want to learn more about creating and maintaining a cyber-secure environment for remote workers? Give us a call. We consider your functions and needs, your tech ecosystem, the experience of all participants, and the flexibility you need to adapt to change when recommending a course of action.

Embrace the mobile workforce with some peace of mind. Our experienced in-house cybersecurity experts will help us recommend the best solution for your business and help you make the most informed decision about your network and cybersecurity.

Reach out to Helm Partners to learn more.

 

 

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