The world of work is changing. One of the biggest trends of the last couple of years has been the shift toward remote employment, with more people than ever working from home. According to statistics from the ONS, 46.6 percent of us were doing at least some of our work this way by April 2020, and this number is only set to increase.
While working from home is different from what we’re used to, it does come with upsides. A new report from YouGov and Microsoft Service indicates that 56 percent of home workers feel happier than when they were employed in an office. For many, this is tied to the greater flexibility afforded by remote work and the extra time it allows them to spend with their families.
However, remote working has also brought some challenges with it, from increased feelings of loneliness and isolation to issues concerning cybersecurity. Given the focus of our blog, it’s the latter we’ll be discussing in this article.
So, what can you do to keep your remote workforce – and by extension, your company – safe in this new world we’re forging?
Educate your employees
Like most things in life, it all begins with education. As an increasing number of your employees begin to work from home, it’s time to make them aware of their role in keeping your business safe, and there are lots of ways you can do this.
This will depend, in part, on the specific model you’re adopting. If your workers are only going to be using company-owned devices, you can set rules on what they can and cannot use these for. If you’re allowing – even encouraging – them to use their own devices, however, it becomes a little trickier.
Let’s imagine you have an employee who likes to occasionally gamble online. It’s not fair to ask them to refrain from doing so on their own devices, so teach them to vet the websites they wish to access instead. For example, reputable casinos like Vegas Slots Online will have a web address beginning with ‘https’ and a padlock symbol preceding this. They’ll also be properly licensed and regulated and will promote this on their website.
As well as providing training on how to stay safe online, make sure you outfit employees with at least a basic understanding of company policies, the importance of two-factor authentication, password best practice, and how to identify hacking attempts. You can do this by providing easy access to guides and presentations, making webinars available, or by delivering hands-on training via video link.
Make VPNs mandatory
A virtual private network, or VPN, establishes a protected connection even when you’re using a public network. It essentially encrypts internet traffic to disguise one’s online identity and can be an important tool in your armoury when it comes to keeping your remote workforce safe.
For this reason, we suggest asking your remote workers to make sure they’re using a VPN anytime they’re acting in a professional capacity. That’s because a lot of home Wi-Fi networks are not secured, leaving users and the sensitive dating they’re accessing vulnerable.
For those using Apple or Microsoft devices, there’s also an option to enable firewalls that stop malicious inbound and outbound requests and make the network more secure.
Use shared documents
One area of vulnerability for businesses is email accounts. However, this can be resolved by keeping information exchange to a minimum. What we mean by this is not that communication should be avoided, but that email attachments should be replaced where possible by shared documents.
Say, for example, you have a distribution list that needs sharing among members of your team. Rather than copying each individual in, attaching the document, and sending it to them, thereby creating multiple avenues through which it can be accessed, make it a shared document that only a finite number of your employees can view.
Implement two-factor authentication
It’s a good idea to incorporate two-factor authentication into your company policy too. To do so, ask all of your staff members to set this up on their accounts. The way it works is simple: when a login is attempted, a verification code or link is sent to that individual’s mobile number or email. They have to enter this before they can gain access.
Two-factor authentication provides highly effective protection against hackers and cybercriminals, adding an extra layer of protection and making sure data is inaccessible to all except those who have permission. This is a great way to enhance the online privacy of your remote workforce and make sure your company’s sensitive information stays safe.
Teach staff how to recognise hacking attempts
Following on from the point we started with, it’s a good idea to hone in on hacking attempts specifically. You want to teach your staff what these look like and how they might manifest. That’s because every hacker needs a way to initially access your system.
This could take several forms, from images and videos to links. Once the individual clicks on this, the hacker can seize control of the device and access the information stored on it. That’s why you should encourage them not to open these without first ascertaining that the sender is genuine.
There are a number of ways to do this, so try to educate your team not only through an initial talk or presentation but also by producing materials they can refer back to when they’re unsure.
Enforce regular password changes
While a strong password and a secure password manager will help prevent your employees’ accounts and devices from being hacked, even the best passwords can be leaked. For this reason, we suggest enforcing a rule whereby your staff must update their passwords regularly.
Ideally, this should happen at least once a month, but some security-conscious businesses like this to be even more frequent, opting for fortnightly updates instead. While it’s a bit of a pain to have to constantly change and then remember new passwords, this is a really effective way to avoid your workforce being hacked.
Isn’t it time you made the safety of your remote workforce a priority?