Are Your Remote Employees Working Securely?

by Sarah Harvey / January 29th, 2019

Employees are often considered an organization’s weakest link, but remote employees create additional risks that businesses must be cognizant of. As more and more businesses opt to hire remote employees, they need to prepare for and stay ahead of these risks. What would happen if a remote employee used public WiFi and a malicious hacker gaining access to your organization’s sensitive files? What would be the impact if your remote employee opened a phishing email because they weren’t trained properly? How would you handle a remote employee losing a company laptop? Having processes in place to train employees on remote security best practices is crucial for any organization’s security. Are your remote employees working securely?

5 Steps to Ensure Remote Worker Data Security

Implement Security Awareness Training

A key component of ensuring that remote security best practices are followed is implementing security awareness training. It’s so important, in fact, that many of the most common information security frameworks, such as SOC, PCI, and HIPAA, require some sort of security awareness training in order to comply. While you can ensure that employees are equipped with the most secure, up-to-date technology, if the people using that technology aren’t well-versed in the many threats they face while using them, those security measures won’t be as effective.

Establish Thorough Usage Policies

Whether it’s desktops, laptops, tablets, or smartphones, employees must have a clear and thorough understanding of how they should use personal or company devices. Do you have a BYOD policy? Are employees able to access work emails on personal devices or vice versa? What are you doing to monitor usage? For employees that are working remotely, establishing these thorough usage policies is especially paramount to ensure that an organization’s security posture remains intact.

Create Effective Password and Encryption Policies

Along with having thorough usage policies, organizations must create an effective password and encryption policies in the event that a mobile device is lost or stolen. Malicious hackers often capitalize on employees’ weak passwords to infiltrate organizations’ networks and can easily access sensitive information if the proper encryption techniques aren’t in place. Educate your remote employees on the dangers of weak passwords, using the same password on work and personal devices, and sharing passwords with others to prevent data breaches or security incidents.

Monitor Internet Connections

Part of the allure of working remotely is just that: being able to work from anywhere. However, this poses major threats to an organization’s security posture. Remote employees are often notorious for falling into the trap of connecting to public or unsecured networks in airports, cafes, and other high-traffic public spaces. As part of the usage policies, organizations must have policies and procedures in place for monitoring internet connections of those working remotely. If your organization offers a BYOD policy, do you offer a reimbursement plan for employees who use their personal hotspot, or do you supply hotspots for your remote employees? Should remote employees use VPNs? If a remote employee is connecting to unsecured networks, they’re putting your organization at risk, and you need to know about it. Establishing monitoring policies and procedures will help keep you ahead of potential cyberattacks and ensure that employees are following remote security best practices.

Ensure Devices and Applications are Updated

For organizations that have many employees who are working remotely, it can be challenging to ensure that all of their devices and applications are updated with the latest antivirus, anti-malware, firewall, web filtering, and encryption needed to keep devices secure. Considering this, these organizations must make it a priority to review their processes for ensuring that devices and applications are updated regularly. Think of it this way: if just one employee misses or forgets to update their mobile device, an organization could experience catastrophic impacts, such as steep fines and penalties, lawsuits, loss of reputation, and/or loss of business.

Remote employees offer many benefits to organizations, but they also pose many threats. Whether employees are working remotely full time or just a few days a year, ask yourself: are your remote employees working securely? Don’t put your organization’s financial health, operations, and reputation on the line – implement these remote security best practices to safeguard your business from potential breaches caused by remote employees. Contact us today to learn about our policy and procedure development services, our security awareness training courses, and more.

More Resources

Top 5 Security Awareness Tips for Employees

5 Ways to Defend Your Business From Cyber Threats

3 Data Security & Privacy Best Practices for Your Employees

Who has the Legal Right to Employee Mobile Phones, Tablets, and Computers?