Working remotely is becoming more prevalent in the modern workplace, which means IT security solutions have to cater to employees who work from home, a cafe, a hotel, an airport, etcetera. Keeping your remote workers safe can be a daunting task, and should never be taken lightly. When your employees are outside of the office, you don’t know what networks they’re connecting to, how safe their connections are, or if their devices are secure.
Enter the managed service provider. With up-to-date IT security solutions designed to keep even the furthest employee safe, you won’t have to worry about an attacker crawling into your network again.
Let’s take a look into how best to keep those remote employees safe.
Utilize Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
Hackers floating around or bots waiting to exploit a vulnerability won’t be able to squeeze into your connection if you’re using a VPN. TechHive explains why you should use a VPN and explains it as a secure tunnel between your PC and destinations you visit on the internet. If you have employees working from out-of-office, make sure they’re set up with a proper VPN to make sure nothing sensitive gets into the hands of someone sinister.
Working with a managed service provider that has proper IT security solutions in their offering is your best bet when it comes to setting up and maintaining a VPN for your remote workers.
Re-do those passwords
Ah, the most common of them all. Password hygiene. It should be of no shock at this point that using passwords like 123456 or “passw0rd1” should be absolutely avoided at all costs. These are among the most simple passwords to hack, and all it takes is one breach to allow your company data into the wrong hands.
To keep your network secure with remote employees, small businesses should require their teammates to use random passwords containing at least 12 characters, including numbers and special characters (e.g. @, !, $, etc.), says Intuit in their piece on how to keep your network secure.
Avoid public WiFi
For the remote employee, working from home sometimes isn’t a great option. Maybe they don’t have an office space at home, or they get easily distracted. Perhaps they have roommates, pets, or kids that make focusing entirely too difficult.
Or maybe this remote employee is simply traveling to a conference or taking their laptop with them on their family vacation.
Whatever the reason, these staff members are probably frequenting cafes, airport lounges, or whatever free hotel WiFi they can get their hands on.
The bad news is, public WiFi is like a public restroom that doesn’t get cleaned or attended to regularly. It’s just there for emergencies, and shouldn’t be used to transmit any kind of company data. Because there are no passwords or security requirements, public WiFi can easily be hacked. It’s also a breeding ground for viruses and other types of malware.
According to the Harvard Business Review’s article on why you should stop using public WiFi, there are dozens of online tutorials showing hackers how to compromise public Wi-Fi, some of them with millions of views. This means even amateur hackers are using public WiFi to test out their skills, and your data is the prize.
Negligence and accidental risks
Even when your employees are working from home using a secure VPN or remote desktop, there can be other risks that need to be considered. Children and pets can be a surprising threat, says MinuteHack in their article about security for remote workers. Think about it: a parent leaves their laptop unattended while getting a refill of coffee from the kitchen. Curious little eyes see a screen with enticing images, and before you know it, keys are being pushed and (if the laptop has touchscreen capability), the screen is being poked over and over again. Looks like an innocent situation until important documents have been deleted, suspicious links have been clicked, random files have been downloaded, and on and on.
Make sure your employees ALWAYS lock their computers, even if stepping away for a moment. Even a cat could wander onto the keyboard and cause some damage. Why take the risk? Teaching employees good security habits can make all the difference.
Now that we’ve covered some of the ways to keep your remote workers safe, it’s time to take a hard look at your security practices. Don’t let everything you’ve worked for fall into the hands of an attacker because of Kevin’s cat.