Best Methods for Securing A Computer When Working Remotely
Remote working is inevitable in most organizations. According to statistics, as of 2022, 26% of U.S. employees were working remotely. The data also shows that 16% of U.S. organizations have fully embraced the remote working future, with all their staff fully remote.
As exciting as remote work might be, it can be challenging for organizations from a cybersecurity perspective. For example, data shows that 20% of organizations experienced a data breach because of a remote worker.
Therefore, you cannot afford to ignore the added vulnerability of hiring and working remotely. Here’re a few practical measures you can take to ensure your organization, employees, and data are secure.
Why You Need Strong Cyber Security Measures for Remote Workers
The scope and nature of cyber security threats increase when employees work remotely. Since employees rely heavily on their personal computers, routers, and other devices for work, new risks emerge that could infect their devices and corporate network with malware or expose data.
The most significant risk is using public networks and devices to access corporate IT infrastructure. Third parties can eavesdrop on the connection and steal sensitive information if the data and network are not properly secured.
This threat is typically less prevalent in a locked and secured corporate network accessed from the business’s premises.
Remote workers also need a broader set of tools to work efficiently. These include video conferencing apps, collaboration software, and other necessary tools. Unfortunately, these additional tools increase the attack surface for cybercriminals, putting organizations at higher risk.
Software and hardware devices used by remote workers may also not be regularly updated, unlike corporate software and devices managed by a professional business IT support team, creating more vulnerabilities.
Ways You Can Secure a Computer When Working Remotely
Here are a few practical ways to secure your computer and your organization’s IT infrastructure when working remotely.
Ask Screening Questions About Cyber Security When Hiring
Cybersecurity starts with your employees’ awareness of it. Therefore, you must ask core cyber security questions when hiring to ensure the new hire will take cyber threats to the organization seriously.
Cybersecurity awareness should also be part of the formal onboarding process. This process will allow you to introduce the new hires to the company culture IT systems and how they can address cyber security threats when they encounter one.
Provide Ongoing Cyber Security Training
A remote workforce aware of cyber security risks is more secure. In addition, providing ongoing cyber security training to employees will help safeguard against common threats such as ransomware, phishing, and malware.
Ongoing training will also increase your employee’s awareness of third-party software vulnerabilities, given the significant number of third-party apps and software they may rely on. They’ll also learn about social engineering attacks that are getting more common and complex.
Separate Work and Personal Devices
It’s recommended that you keep your work and personal devices separate. Despite the convenience of logging into work and social media simultaneously, there’s a higher risk of your organization’s data and network being compromised if your device gets breached while doing riskier personal work.
By separating work and personal devices, you also draw a boundary between your personal and professional life, reducing the risk of a family member accidentally installing a malicious app on your computer and compromising the organization’s cyber security.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
VPNs add an extra layer of security to ensure remote workers have secure access to the corporate network and data. However, having a standard layer of VPN can expose more security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to infiltrate the corporate network.
Therefore, you should invest in secure VPNs that use a username and password or smart cards to authenticate users and connected devices. Secure VPNs also use encryption to secure data transmitted over the network using technologies such as Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP).
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Using secure Wi-Fi is an essential cyber security tip for remote workers. Hackers can breach Wi-Fi networks, gain access to your devices, or use the web for other criminal activities, such as stealing corporate data.
The first step is to avoid public Wi-Fi, which is often insecure. It would help if you also changed your default router password to a new, unique password to ensure no cybercriminal can easily access it.
Use Secure Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication
Passwords are typically the first line of defense for websites, computers, mobile devices, and apps. However, it would help if you created a solid and unique password to be entirely secure. Moreover, you must not repeat passwords, which makes it easier for hackers to infiltrate multiple apps and devices if the password gets compromised.
With hackers devising clever ways of stealing passwords, you should also enable two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security. Two-factor authentication requires “proof” that you’re the correct person accessing an account and not a cybercriminal.
Always Leave Your Work Device Secured
You can set your work device to lock automatically after a certain amount of inactivity to safeguard sensitive files and data. Securing your work device will also help protect sensitive information in case it’s stolen or accessed when you’re not present.
You can also enable automatic location tracking to find the device if it’s stolen easily.
Use a Password Manager
With numerous third-party apps, services, and work devices to connect, it can be challenging to manage the multiple unique passwords needed to keep these apps and devices secure. Therefore, using a password manager is the best way to ensure you’re storing each password safely and you can remember them.
A password manager uses one master password that you have to remember to store and generate new passwords for your connected apps and devices. Some examples of excellent password managers include LogMeOnce, LastPass, Rippling, and One Login.
Be Aware of Old-Fashioned Phishing Scams
Phishing has risen to be one of the most common conduits for cyberattacks. According to statistics, over six months in 2022, there were over 255 million phishing attacks.
Therefore, you need to be more aware of old-fashioned phishing scams impersonating your boss or colleague, asking for confidential information about a bank account or work account. Most phishing emails will have a fake address, grammatical errors, or urgent messages.
Richelle Calicott is the partner and Chief Financial Officer for TechSeven Partners. TechSeven Partners is an IT solutions provider in Fort Mill, SC, and is prominent in the small to medium business sectors. TechSeven provides strategic technology and cyber security solutions for growing businesses.