In 2021, remote working is still very much considered the norm as the world continues to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses have requested their staff work remotely for the foreseeable future. Others are now taking advantage of the normalization of remote staff to hire long-distance employees.
But while remote work can have many benefits to an organization, such as access to a broader talent pool and lower costs of premises, it can also come with challenges. One of the major issues surrounds keeping remote workers protected against cybercrime.
Within an office environment, workers have a number of protections, such as the company firewall and regularly updated infrastructure. Without these protections, remote staff can potentially be vulnerable. Here we take a look at how your business can protect them.
Invest in a strong VPN
Remote workers are more likely than ever to use a company virtual private network. A VPN can provide access to a remote company server, as well as other systems, tools, and software. But while VPNs can be extremely useful for businesses, they can also present issues if they are not managed effectively.
It is important that your VPN should use multi-factor authentication (MFA) rather than just usernames and passwords. Additionally, if you are only using a basic VPN, it can be sensible to upgrade your encryption to a Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP), which offers better protection for businesses wanting to keep data secure.
Test your own system
You should consider it business-critical to ensure that your system is as secure as possible. Putting strong systems, processes, and cybersecurity products in place is a good start, but the next step is testing your system for any underlying weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
This should begin with penetration testing, which is the assessment of computer networks, systems, and applications to identify and address security weaknesses. In practice, it involves cybersecurity professionals utilizing the same techniques that would be used by hackers and cybercriminals to help understand if your system has vulnerabilities that could be exploited.
Once the testing is completed, the penetration tester can provide details on how to remedy the issues in the system so that they can't be used by cybercriminals in future.
Provide thorough training
It is essential that you provide thorough cybersecurity training to any employee, but this is especially true of remote staff. This needs to go beyond the standard advice on setting a strong password and how to spot phishing emails; although, of course, these are still both essential pieces of knowledge.
Cybersecurity threats evolve and change constantly, so it is important that your training should too. Regular training can help to keep remote staff aware of the dangers they can face and the latest types of attacks being deployed.
For example, being aware of scams such as business email compromise (BEC) is more important than ever before. In this type of attack, a criminal can gain access to the email account of an important member of an organization and then impersonate them. This could take many forms, but might involve getting the accounts department to sign off a payment to a "supplier" that turns out to be fictitious.
For remote workers, in this case, it is vital to get more than simple electronic confirmation on issues involving unusual payments or changes to financial details.
Advanced cybersecurity software
As mentioned earlier, protections such as a firewall and antivirus solutions do still have an important role to play in the protection of remote workers. However, they are no longer a silver bullet, and it is necessary to pair them with more advanced software to offer more comprehensive defenses.
A tool like endpoint detection and response (EDR) works differently than your firewall or antivirus; it is constantly analyzing information to understand if there are threats or suspicious activity relating to any endpoint in the system.
Remote workers can be vulnerable to cybercriminals who know that they are working outside of the protections of the business network. If these remote workers can be compromised, it can allow criminals to gain access to your system and could ultimately result in a huge security issue.
Putting in the important groundwork and ensuring remote staff have the right protections, tools, and training can prevent this from happening.