Whether it’s due to the ever-evolving changes in technology or physical challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s businesses are moving towards a remote workforce. As those businesses continue to adapt to having employees work from home on an occasional or permanent basis, maintaining the security of corporate assets becomes more complex. Thinking through your remote workforce data security posture should be at the forefront of any work from home policy and decision making.
Are you considering the implementation or permanent continuation of having your staff stationed in remote location? If so, you may be wondering how to ensure that your company’s data and infrastructure remains safe. Thankfully, the technology that makes it happen has evolved significantly in just the last few years. Through the use of methods that have been proven reliable and safe, you can remain confident that your company’s data integrity will be protected.
There are many things that can be done to help secure your business when allowing your employees to work from home. We’ve compiled a few of them to help you get started. Continue reading to learn how you can help protect your business while allowing your staff to work from home.
The first line in your company’s remote workforce data security defense should be proper employee training. As the saying goes, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. In the realm of cybersecurity, human error and instinct is arguably the weakest aspect of your strategy. An effective way of minimizing the chance of human error is to invest in cybersecurity training.
Training is available for a multitude of cybersecurity topics. One of the most common and important topics is phishing awareness. By training your team to be more cognizant of phishing attempts, you are helping protect against one of the most widely used attack vectors that criminals use to gain access to or steal company data.
In addition to phishing awareness, there are many other topics that an employer can provide training on in order to help lower your company’s overall risk. These topics can include proper WiFi usage, safe internet habits, social engineering, and physical security.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
The use of MFA systems has become standard across a multitude of platforms. Banking, social media, and other sites will strongly suggest (if not mandate) the use of it. MFA provides an additional layer of security when your employees sign in to systems and should be mandated for all systems where its available.
MFA works by requiring a combination of two things in order for the login to be successful: something you know (your password) and something you have (mobile app, SMS codes, phone call, etc.). This allows logins to remain protected even if the user’s password was to become compromised.
The use of MFA should also be incorporated into your cybersecurity training. Employees should be trained to never accept or answer an MFA prompt unless they were expecting to receive the request. Otherwise, the benefits of MFA become null and void.
A common security practice in the business world is the use of Mobile Device Management (MDM). As technology has continued to advance, the concept of providing security and management has expanded beyond mobile devices like cell phones to include any device that interacts with your company data.
Through the use of endpoint management systems such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager, businesses can ensure that the devices that are able to access corporate data are considered compliant and safe. Some common policies seen in the realm of endpoint management include enforcing the use of data encryption and requiring the use of a security mechanism (PIN, password, facial recognition, etc.). You can also set even stricter restrictions to only allow data to sync on corporate-owned devices to further lessen the chance of data leakage.
The options available for endpoint management are vast. And through the use of granular policies, you can custom tailor your solution to one that meets your company’s needs without adding inconveniences.
Network Perimeter Requirements
Ensuring security of a computer’s local network can be challenging when your employees are primarily working from outside of a corporate office. It becomes even more difficult when factoring in the possible differences from one employee to the next. And while providing device-level security through methods like endpoint management is an effective measure, it is equally important make sure that the network that is transmitting data back and forth to the device is secure as well.
Your strategy for establishing a secure network perimeter should start with encryption. Any systems in use by your company should transmit data in an encrypted fashion. This helps prevent against threats like man-in-the-middle attacks. Your corporate data should never be transmitted in plain-text format unless absolutely required.
The equipment that is used to control the local network of your employees should always meet a set of standards. If you would like standardization across your remote workforce, you should consider providing your employees with a business-class router, switch, and wireless access point that has been preconfigured with a standardized secure configuration. If providing equipment does not match your company’s desires or it isn’t within your budget, a set of documented standards should be maintained that include ensuring that your employees have changed the default credentials on all of their network equipment, are using WPA2 security for their WiFi, and have segregated their company devices onto a dedicated VLAN if possible.
Depending on how and where your systems are hosted, you may want to consider enforcing the use of VPN connectivity for your staff. An established connection to the VPN server would be required in order to access any hosted company data. VPN traffic is encrypted which further protects against network-level threats.
VPN can also be used to provide additional layers of corporate protection. If you choose to allow your employees to use their personally-owned network equipment, VPN can allow you to still enforce productivity measures such as content filtering and traffic monitoring.
With VPN implemented, all traffic can be secured through a digital tunnel that helps keep your corporate data away from prying eyes.
Here at Diligex, we are specialists when it comes to thinking through and implementing remote workforce data security. Feel free to contact us if you would like assistance with helping your business adapt to a working from IT home policy.
It can seem scary at first to not have the staff you’re relying on physically in your presence. But through the use of modern and sophisticated security standards, you can rest assured knowing that your business and its assets are well protected.