The COVID-19 pandemic forced a new frontier on businesses, startups, and entire industries. When companies that traditionally operate in-person adapted to the sudden shift to a digital interface – many found that their remote network security measures for a remote workforce were vastly underprepared.
As uncertainty related to the pandemic lingers, many companies have chosen to adopt the “digital by default” model. Yet while thousands of employees use their personal devices and unsecured networks to work from home, the threat of a network security breach grows daily.
Since the start of the pandemic, cybercrime has increased by 600%.
The FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have issued advisories, warning that the threat of network security breaches, vishing (social engineering through voicemail), smishing (social engineering through SMS or iMessages) and phishing schemes targeting remote employees is the highest it’s ever been.
Improving your remote network security will keep you and your company prepared and protected despite the rise of digital deviance.
How to Improve Remote Network Security
Smartphones, laptops, and mobile devices are considered the most vulnerable endpoints for remote network security breaches. If your company has the ability and the infrastructure, you should offer your employees a company computer and mobile device with strong antivirus software, custom firewalls, and encrypted access to your network’s automatic online backup tools. But, let’s face it, not every company is equipped to handle such an expense.
Your remote employees need to take precautions at home to ensure that they are not leaving the entire company vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Knowledge is power. You should implement remote network security training that teaches your employees about cybersecurity stats and common threats such as phishing attacks. Ensuring that your employees understand the tell-tale signs of a cyber-attack will reduce the risk of a network security breach.
According to reports by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, nearly 90% of cyber-attacks are caused by human error or behavior.
One seemingly basic aspect of cybersecurity poses a major risk for remote workers: passwords. Ideally, you should use all allowed character types – uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers, punctuation and special characters.
It’s equally important for remote employees to use different passwords for each of their accounts. If an employee uses one password to log into multiple accounts, it would take just one compromised instance for a hacker to take over.
While convenient, the “Remember Password” function is a potential network vulnerability. This option should always be turned off when employees log into company information systems, websites, and applications from personal devices.
Make sure that remote workers who are using their own devices have enabled basic security features on their devices such as a PIN, fingerprint, or other biometric ID.
Employees that work remotely should use a virtual private network, or VPN. A VPN not only bypasses geographic restrictions on streaming sites and other location-specific content, but it encrypts all user traffic.
Encryption ensures that all of your online activity is indecipherable to anyone who intercepts it. Encryption tools should be installed on all personal and work computers.
Firewalls act as a line of defense to protect your company’s information. They create a custom barrier between your employee’s devices and the network, by only allowing certain points of access. This helps to defend against malicious entry and can stop data leaking from personal devices.
Modern operating systems and routers often have firewalls that are built-in – but urge your employees to confirm that they are enabled.
Mobile devices pose one of the greatest threats to remote network security. Many smartphones, tablets, and laptops automatically search for the nearest Wi-Fi connection available. If your device swaps to a new network, you no longer have the predefined protections that your VPN provides. If a remote employee decides to bring their work on the go, they must check that they are using the secure VPN.
You should also consider using Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM). These solutions can help manage and secure mobile devices and applications through the remote implementation of cybersecurity measures, including data encryption, malware scans, and wiping data on stolen devices.
Digital by Default
As remote work becomes the new standard of employment, it is essential for companies to enforce the necessary infrastructure and security guidelines to minimize exposure to remote network security breaches. You’ve worked hard on your business. Don’t leave your company and your livelihood vulnerable to cybercrime.
Next Horizon provides holistic technology solutions for businesses looking to improve sales, increase agility and optimize productivity. From deploying dedicated development teams to building bespoke business applications, Next Horizon uses its 40+ years of experience and award winning talent to provide technical business solutions for its clients.