Five Best Cyber Steps To Help Remote Staffs Work Securely
Assuring your virtual workers of their digital security.
So how do people stay cyber secure when working remotely?
Over the past few months, the structure of the workforce across the globe has seen a massive change, from in-house training and office work to virtual training and remote work. This change which began with a very small percentage of the working population seeking a new work-life balance, accelerated with rapid velocity in 2020 because of the need to maintain social distancing due to the pandemic brought about by the novel CoronaVirus and its mutant strains.
Currently, 88% of business organizations world wide encourage their employees to work from home and 97% of these organizations have cancelled work related travel. 77% of remote workers have reported an increase in productivity.
However, the increase of virtual and remote workers means an increase in cybercrime. Homeland Security reported in November 2020, that cybercrime had increased by 63% since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. This number, according to the Homeland Security reports, is expected to continue to rise. Therefore it is important that organizations take some necessary steps to avoid suffering any losses and to help their remote workers work more securely.
Aspects of cybersecurity include:-
- Network security: The protection of networks from unwanted users, attacks and intrusions.
- Application security: Constant updating and testing of apps to ensure these programs are secure from attacks.
- Endpoint security: Although remote access is a necessary part of business, it can also be a weak point for data. Endpoint security is the process of guarding the remote access to a company’s network.
- Data security: Inside all networks and applications is data. Protecting company and customer data is another separate layer of security.
- Identity management: This is a security process of understanding and managing the access every individual has in an organization.
- Database and infrastructure security: Networks involve databases and physical equipment. These equipment or devices are equally important and must be protected.
- Cloud security: Today, many files are stored in digital environments or “the cloud”. Securing data in a 100% online environment presents a large amount of difficulties. These files must be heavily guarded.
- Mobile security: Cell phones and tablets used for work activities must be protected.
- Disaster recovery/business continuity planning: In the event of a security breach, natural disaster or any other event, data must be secured and business must go on.
- End-user education: The end-users are the employees who access the network or customers who log on to a company app. Educating the end-users on good security habits (password changes, 2-factor authentication, etc.) is a very important part of cybersecurity.
Cyber attacks are attacks on the cyberspace of an organization. These attacks often seek to either access, change, or destroy sensitive information; extort money from users; interrupt normal business processes and are sometimes a combination of the above-mentioned.
What Are The Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks
Cyber attacks come in different shapes and forms. Some are overt ransomware attacks which hijack essential business products or tools in exchange for money, while others are covert operations where the criminals infiltrate a system to gain valuable data, only for the infiltration to be discovered months after-the-fact, if it is discovered at all. Cyber criminals are getting more clever with their malicious deeds.
Malware: Malware describes malicious software including spyware, ransomware and viruses. It breaches networks through vulnerabilities, like clicking on suspicious email links or installing risky applications. Once inside a network, malware can obtain sensitive information, further replicate throughout the system and can even block access to vital business network components.
Phishing: Phishing is the practice of sending malicious communications (usually emails) designed to appear to come from reputable or well-known sources. The criminals capitalize on people’s natural curiosity and trust. These emails use the same names, logos, wording, etc., as the high ranking executives in an organization or as an associate company to dull suspicions and get victims to click on harmful links. Once a phishing link is clicked on, cyber criminals get access to sensitive data like credit card, social security or login information. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, 91% of cyberattacks are launched through spear-phishing emails, which infect the organizations with ransomware.
Social Engineering: Social engineering is the psychological manipulation of people into divulging personal information. Phishing is an example of social engineering. An example of more advanced social engineering is voice manipulation. Here, cyber criminals manipulate a person’s friends or relatives by calling them using the person’s voice ( gotten from a voicemail or social media post) and asking for credit card or other personal information details.
Man-in-the-Middle Attack: Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks occur when cyber criminals interrupt the traffic between a two-party transaction. For example, criminals can situate themselves between a public Wi-Fi and an individual’s device. Without a securely protected Wi-Fi connection, cyber criminals sometimes can view all of a victim’s information without ever being caught.
Zero-day attack: Zero-day attacks are becoming increasingly common. These attacks occur between an organization’s network vulnerability announcement and the discovery of a security patch solution.
How Do People Stay Cyber Secure When Working Remotely
Here are five best steps to stay cyber secure when working from home.
Educate your employees
The best way of protecting your employees against cyber attacks is by educating them about the prevalent cybersecurity threats. Due to cybersecurity unawareness, employees can unintentionally cause data breaches, leaving your company at risk. A report has revealed that implementing cybersecurity awareness training amongst employees significantly reduces human error, mitigating up to 90% of cyber risks.
Employees should be educated to:
- Use Passphrases instead of Passwords. They must take note not to write down their passwords anywhere.
- Backup their passwords with a two-step verification process.
- Keep their softwares up to date.
- Be wary of suspicious links, URLs and emails.
- Protect their personal information.
- Identify phishing emails from regular emails.
- Never use public Wi-Fi, especially when accessing sensitive data.
- Never share or work on personal devices as they are often insecure.
- Always back data up to a central location on a daily basis.
Secure And Manage The Endpoints
Organizations can issue their remote staff with devices which have been appropriately configured and protected the company’s choice of end point protection.
These are then managed by Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools which have the ability to remotely lock a missing device,erase all data on a stolen device or retrieve backed up information.
Use Security Protection
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) should be used in conjunction with public or home Wi-Fi to ensure that data sent along a public Internet signal to and from your office’s network is encrypted.
One Drive or Share Sync can be used to share sensitive and encrypted files with co-workers and clients. Elements of Microsoft 365 such as SharePoint and Teams can also be leveraged for it’s simplification of data security.
Use antivirus softwares to scan through websites, downloaded apps, files, email attachments and content stored on hard drives, memory cards or USB sticks. It is important to keep these (the antivirus softwares) up to date.
Firewalls offer protection to your system by blocking malicious traffic from attack vectors before it can enter your computer system, and by restricting unnecessary outbound communications.
Encrypted emails, two factor authentication, web filtering and cloud protection can also serve as measures of security protection.
Set Up A BCDR Plan
BCDR plan stands for Business Continuity Disaster Recovery plan. This is a set of contingency plans that are drawn up in the event of network outage or ransomware attack. They ensure that your business even when remote will avoid a lengthy downtime if ransomware attacks or network outages occur.
It is important to ensure that your business data is regularly backed up or you run a risk of losing valuable documents. This plan should be brought to the awareness of the executives and top IT personnels in the event that your network is breached or taken down.
Set Up A Company Wide Protocol
The greatest potential network sometimes is a lack of open communication among your staff. Start by laying out a policy with a few basic tenants to ensure that all staff are up-to-speed on cyber security do’s and don’ts.
Proper channels of communication should be made available and care should be taken to ensure that your staff understands the channels for communicating issues; who to report lost devices to, who to contact about phishing emails, protocols on Mobile Device Management, MDM and Mobile Application Management, MAM.
In the event of the occurrence of a network breach or outage, your staff should know the emergency action plan that will be put into effect and how to implement it.
You need to ensure that your staff know how to share files with one another securely without putting your company’s private data at risk.
You need to create password policies to educate your employees on how to create and maintain secure passwords.
You may consider working with a managed service provider (MSP) who can help you secure your network removing the stress and cost of doing it yourself. The MSP can help in setting up workspace for the remote staff and can serve as a help desk, assisting remote staff with network issues.
The most difficult challenge in cyber security however, is the ever-evolving nature of the security risks or cyber threats themselves. Help your remote staff work securely, stay ahead of them by applying these steps to upgrade your cyber security today.