About Securing your Remote Workforce
Over the last few years, there have been several big names (companies) preparing and then moving to a partial or total “remote work” setup. Most of these companies spent months preparing for the switch. The obvious preparation steps had to include staff training, networks, policies, connections, etc., all to ensure all needed infrastructure was in place to ensure a swift transition and, of course, prepare for any cybersecurity threats.
However, we know how the events in the last months have forced many companies to make the transition almost overnight. Very few got the chance to fully prepare themselves, leaving them vulnerable to attacks and data breaches. And this is exactly what cybercriminals are capitalizing on.
According to the FBI, daily cybersecurity complaints increased from 1,000 to 4,000 during the COVID-19 situation. With DoS (Denial of Service), Malspam, ransomware and phishing attacks on the rise, not acting to fully prepare your company and your team makes you a sitting duck for bad actors to compromise your business’ data.
Risks and consequences
Some risks and consequences of not updating (in some cases upgrading) your training programs and security protocols to prevent and/or handle could lead to:
Inaction: by not having your employees properly trained on how to identify a threat or how to handle one, they may feel helpless, indecisive, or just plainly fail to identify it as such – all leading to the same conclusion. And, being in a remote setting, your team may find it harder to ask for support or advice.
Business growth Hindering: one of the impacts a cyberattack has on a company is hindering your credibility and reputation in the market. This can make it challenging to acquire new customers or retain existing ones because they don’t trust you with their information.
Business paralysis: over the last year there has been an unprecedented rise in DDoS attacks. Such attacks typically lead to downtime, increased vulnerability, and disruption of business operations – among other factors.
Business information: by failing to defend and protect your company data, cybercriminals may end up getting away with everything from confidential client data, patents, sales information, business plans, etc., on top of asking for exorbitant sums of money to release your network from, for example, ransomware.
Financial implications: 2020 has seen a 109% spike in ransomware attacks in the United States alone. Here is a situation since paying the ransom is not the sole financial implication. A breach could see you lose money, your clients’ financial details. Besides, even if you pay, there is no certainty your information will not be shared on the dark web, exposing said business and client information to further manipulation.
Legal sanctions: if you fail to adequately protect yourself against cyberattacks, you could face everything from consumer lawsuits, hefty fines, sanctions and even a business shutdown. See article: Supply Chain Management Obligations.
How can you secure your remote workforce?
Straight forward: be one step ahead of the bad actors. But how? The moment you lower your guard, there is every chance a nefarious cybercriminal will look to exploit any vulnerabilities. And with most of your team working remotely, it will not take much effort to breach your defenses. In fact, all it could take is a password shared publicly on a team chat app, an accidental click on a phishing link, or confidential company information accessed through a public Wi-Fi connection.
Therefore, you need to have a strong IT Policy in place that directly addresses remote workforce, including security training.
Device security: you must clearly define what is permissible and what is not – the type of devices, operating systems, what applications and websites can be accessed. Besides that, they should have a list of all security, remote access, VPN as well as other tools they need to install before they start. Your remote team should also be aware of the level of access/control you have over their devices and the company’s right to wipe, alter and monitor said devices.
Network security: public and home Wi-Fi are nowhere near as secure as the office LAN connection. That’s why you must enforce minimum-security standards to ensure employees don’t put company data at risk. Define everything from Wi-Fi encryption standards, Wi-Fi password difficulty, network security software, router safety guidelines and the types of devices that can be connected to the network.
Usage of public Wi-Fi must be actively discouraged.
Cybersecurity training: adequate cybersecurity training cannot be overestimated. Your own team is your best and last line of defense. Any training program must include everything from password management (recommended: Password or Passphrase? 5 Reasons to Use Passphrase), multifactor authentication, identifying phishing and ransomware attacks, operating/updating security software, email usage, reporting and responding to cyber threats, among other topics.
Help your IT Department: most IT departments grow thin with their regular tasks such as support, setups, urgent requests. One option is to hire more IT staff, more software and hardware. This will derive, inevitably, in more hiring, more software, etc. A better option will be to get help from a professional – a company that dedicates its life to provide you with training, ensures cybersecurity and monitoring, does all the patching and updates. You would be surprised by the amount of money and time you can save while gaining peace of mind along the way.
Strengthen your line of defense
Overall, the MAIN factor to accomplish is to obtain communication among your employees – a secure and reliable communication channel.
We know how we got to this point. We know cybercrime is growing. You need to ensure everyone in your organization always has their guard up and you also want to be sure someone always keeps an eye on the gates. Find out how you can secure your remote team and strengthen your company’s IT infrastructure – contact us now and get started. We also know how to get you there.
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