By Jason Hoenich on Mar 13, 2019
Face it: Your workforce is going remote. It might not be 100 percent of the time or even 50 percent of the time, but this workforce trend is no longer just a trend—it’s your new reality. Actually, despite the numbers being all over the place, telecommuting is everyone’s new reality:
- 79% of knowledge workers in a global survey by PGi said they work from home.
- 23% of employees reported doing some of their work remotely, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- 43% of Americans surveyed by Gallup said they spent at least some time working remotely.
Although it might feel like the biggest challenge you’re facing is the jealousy you’re feeling over your oh-so-lucky pajama-clad, Snuggie-wearing colleagues, your biggest challenge is actually security.
If your workers aren’t physically on-site, they’re probably relying on coffee shop Wi-Fi or a cleverly named at-home network to access company documents and data. Without the right training and awareness about security issues, your workforce will inevitably rely on bad habits and holes in security, putting your company’s data, reputation, and security at risk.
1. Security Software
If your workers are using company-issued machines, you’ve probably already done your due diligence and thrown the right stuff on the devices—which makes your life and theirs a lot easier. The reality, however, is that the bulk of remote workers today are using their own devices—whether that’s a laptop or mobile device—so they’ll need the know-how for installing the right endpoint security software.
Create a company wiki or knowledge base article about the different types of software your workers need to have installed on which devices for working remotely, and make sure that you offer options for all setups, whether it’s a Mac or PC. Better yet, make it part of onboarding for your remote workers and even your freelancers.
One solid recommendation for inclusion is Malwarebytes, which is available for all iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows devices. Malwarebytes protects privacy through proactive, malware-blasting technology that fights scams, ransomware, malware, and more.
2. Using the Cloud
Make sure all of your workers have access to cloud storage, and consider popping on two-factor authentication (2FA) for good measure. With 2FA, your workers will get used to entering their username and password and the extra-level verification step that follows through a third-party app like Google Authenticator.
Also, opt for software that allows sharing and editing docs in the cloud, which adds an extra layer of protection and ensures there aren’t any virtual doors left unlocked for cybercriminals to sneak in.
We also recommend giving your workers a bit of training on permissions for Google Docs. Did you know you can set individual document settings, including preventing a specific user from downloading, printing, or copying a file? You can even set an expiration on access for Google Docs! Check out all the settings, and make sure your workers know how to access and use these, especially if you’re giving third parties access to your company Drive.
3. Public Wi-Fi
Carrie in accounting probably really loves working from her local coffee shop, but does she know that she’d be better off brewing and working at home? If your workforce brings up the productivity-inducing noise of a coffee shop, remind them that it’s the 21st century, and anything is possible! Then, tell them to install an app like Coffitivity or Noisli to benefit from the coffee house noise.
Accessing work email and the company intraweb, and even checking social accounts and bank balances, should be done from a secure network. If your workers are remote or traveling and absolutely have to use a public signal, make sure they know to stick to trustworthy sites they know.
4. Virtual Networks
Depending on your industry, consider setting up a secure virtual network for remote employees to log in to the company system. This safeguards not only your employees but also your corporate environment. Even better, move your whole operation into a secure cloud solution.
It’s common—and even accepted—practice at many organizations to share passwords for internal resources or to change passwords or push for a password manager only after disaster strikes.
With remote teams, people are often passing passwords around via email or Slack or Zoom, too. This makes data breaches nearly impossible to contain, and it’s why security awareness training for remote and virtual employees should be your number one priority.
Your workers should know that longer passwords (e.g., “remoteworkersarehappier”) are more secure than complicated passwords (e.g., “R3mote19”), but the most secure way to manage personal and business passwords for remote workers is to use a password manager such as Dashlane, LastPass, or 1Password.
Cybercriminals don’t care if your team is remote or packed into a single TARDIS-style cubicle, so be as thorough as they are! If you’ve got remote workers, set up regular calls—biweekly or monthly—to deliver morsels of security knowledge and answer any questions that your teams might have.
Make sure your knowledge base or wiki is up to date so you can reference these supporting materials regularly through emails or intraoffice chat channels.
Goals for Working Remotely
Your ultimate goal is to create a culture of security no matter where your team members are working from. Be proactive in the changing landscape by having a solid strategy and policies in place for managing and empowering your growing remote workforce.
Help your employees master the right habits for working remotely so they can handle social engineering, phishing scams, the woes of free Wi-Fi, ransomware, CEO scams, passwords, and more. Secure your remote workforce by dipping your toes in our demo waters now.