Ensuring Remote Work Security for Your Massachusetts Firm
Working from home is vastly different from working in an office in several ways. This includes the way we use our computers, mobile devices, and the internet.
One of the main concerns of remote working revolves around ensuring the security of our organization’s networks and devices. As cyber threats increase with each passing day, it has become imperative for users to protect them.
In a typical Massachusetts office, system admins are constantly on vigil against the dangers of the cyber world. But if sensitive customer data or confidential company documents get stolen or leaked from your employee’s home computer, you’re going to be in deep trouble.
Whether your employees always work remotely or are currently working from home in Massachusetts due the COVID-19 pandemic, you will do well to ensure remote work security through the following steps.
1. Harness the Power of Antivirus
Firms take several enterprise-level steps to safeguard their computers from malware. These include installing potent security software, restricting access to their systems from unauthorized devices, prohibiting employees from installing applications, and more. Remote workers, however, cannot ensure this level of protection, leaving their computer susceptible to data breaches, hacking attacks, and other types of detrimental cybercrimes.
This disaster can be prevented through one simple step: installing a robust antivirus solution on all devices that store company data. A reliable antivirus can protect computers from several kinds of online threats, which is why it is crucial to have all remote employees install one. Even the free versions of antivirus significantly reduce the risk of infections.
2. Encryption for Safeguarding Devices
Encryption involves the encoding of information in a way that makes it near impossible to be decrypted by unauthorized entities. This can be beneficial in the case of a lost or stolen device as it will prevent others from accessing the data without an appropriate password.
Encryption can be activated on all devices. Enable BitLocker on Windows and FileVault on a Mac OS. You can use dm-crypt (or a similar feature) on a Linux device. When it comes to smartphones, Android 6 and upwards have encryption by default. This is also true of iOS 8 and upward devices.
3. Two-Factor Authentication Is the Way to Go
Adding two-factor authentication (or 2FA) can prove to be a great preventative step by adding an extra layer of protection to your remote security. Adding 2FA solutions such as Duo to existing on-premises remote access solutions is highly recommended. Duo can easily integrate with Remote Desktop Web Access and Remote Desktop Gateway to add two-factor authentication to RD Web and RD Gateway logins.
In 2FA, the first factor is usually your password, while the second factor could be email or text-based verification. It can also include biometric verification, such as facial recognition or fingerprint scan.
4. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
When it comes to remote work, using VPNs is always helpful. This is particularly true now when almost all employees are performing remote work from home in Massachusetts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. VPNs provide employees with safe and secure access to their organization’s internal data and network irrespective of their location.
They work by providing a safe passage between an individual’s device and service data center while encrypting the transmitted data. However, you need to exercise caution when using VPNs. Many a time, people do not update their systems for years together, leaving their VPN software un-updated too. It is, therefore, necessary that your VPN solutions are up-to-date on the server or firewall that is hosting the solution or on the remote computers.
5. Mitigate Avoidable Risks
Often, remote employees unintentionally prove to the biggest security risks and breaches for your organization. The way they conduct business can make your organization an easy target for sophisticated hackers. Here are a few security loopholes that can give hackers backdoor entry to your systems.
- Weak Passwords: Hackers are always on the lookout for users who set weak passwords, especially when attacking PoS terminals. You should make it mandatory for remote and in-office employees to regularly update their login details. Ask them to use password-generating-and-storage applications, if required.
- Unsecure Systems: Storing confidential information on unsecure systems, sending it without encryption or leaving systems open for employees to upload files can result in remote security issues such as malware and ransomware attacks as well as phishing.
- Unrestricted Data Access: Granting unlimited data access to remote employees makes your business systems vulnerable to malicious activity from a third-party. Allowing limited access to remote employees to only the essential data and revoking access when necessary will keep you protected.
- Outdated Application Security: Using open-source software and cloud-based apps can compromise your remote access security. Web app purchases and free downloads should require proper authentication to prevent this. You may also want to work as a reliable provider of remote IT services in Massachusetts to unceasingly scan web applications and maintain a powerful firewall.
6. Train Employees on Cybersecurity
Taking a cue from the above point, training your employees, whether remote or in-office, about keeping your business secure is crucial to upholding your online security. As drab as this may sound, it doesn’t have to be so. Provide training periodically and follow this up with contests and challenges that will make them interested in learning about business security.
For example, every once in a while, set up phishing email simulators so employees can use their knowledge from the training to identify the potential dangers. Encourage research about the latest hacking trends and malware to keep your team alert and aware. Offer prizes, such as gift cards, to really get their attention. Maintain a scoreboard and reward employees who consistently and correctly report suspicious emails and other online activity.
While performing remote work from home in Massachusetts may have its benefits, if not implemented properly, it can come with several potential pitfalls, with systems and network vulnerability being one of the most significant. The above tips are some of the most effective practices you can implement to minimize and mitigate cyber risks, regardless of the size of your business. Remember, there is no way to make your data, systems, and networks 100 per cent secure at all times. What matters most is that you make the required effort to keep them safe.
Marco is the owner and founder of NetLogix, Inc. a Managed IT Security Services firm that has been helping small businesses by providing an innovative and unique blend of managed IT services throughout New England with expertise in Insurance, Legal, Medical & Professional Services. Learn more about Marco and NetLogix here.