Trying to keep tabs on your employees while working together under the same roof can be fraught with challenges, but attempting to avoid a remote employee security risk may seem like nothing short of a herculean endeavor. From monitoring their productivity to making sure they don’t inadvertently sabotage your business through carelessness, there are a myriad of ways your employees can accidentally put your company at risk.
One of the biggest issues remote employers are currently facing is the probability of security breaches from their work-at-home staff. Oftentimes, these problems can seem innocuous at first and may fly under the radar — until they start to pose a very real threat to your organization. Fortunately, while trying to uphold the privacy and security of your business can be difficult, there are certain measures you can implement to help mitigate this risk.
Look Out for These Remote Employee Security Risks
When working from a brick-and-mortar location, it’s much easier to monitor your employee’s internet usage to make sure they are using an encrypted network (such as a VPN). However, when they start to take their work home, that’s when security issues can start to arise. An unsecured Wi-Fi connection is arguably one of the most dangerous risks your remote employees can take.
Most of us get automatic prompts to update our smartphones when a newer operating system comes out. We also are aware that our workplace offers secure firewalls and anti-virus to help prevent problems with security breaches. However, when working from a home computer, these considerations can quickly be forgotten. In turn, your remote employees are all but laying out a welcome mat to unscrupulous internet denizens.
While the novel coronavirus pandemic has managed to bring out a lot of good in people, encouraging them to rally together to help overcome these unprecedented times, it has also had the unfortunate side effect of luring scammers out of the woodwork, too. The problem with phishing scams has been so prolific, it’s almost become a secondary pandemic in itself.
A phishing scam is especially insidious, as it masquerades as a legitimate entity in order to steal personal information. Typically, it includes the scammer posing as a coworker or an employer to coax confidential information (such as login credentials or other secure data) from the employee. However, online security training can help educate your team about these dangers to better safeguard them from this very common scheme.
Of course, a scammer may not even need to try to weasel out your staff’s confidential information if they’re only armed with weak passwords. Security tools such as VPNs, encryption software, and firewalls can only do so much if your employee has chosen an overly common password for their login credentials.
Hackers have a comprehensive database of “easy” passwords at their disposal, and all they need to do is simply run it against your employee’s username to crack into their accounts. By writing a simple string of code, their bots can steal the password in a surprisingly short amount of time. To help prevent this, it’s important to remind your remote staff to use complex passwords and not something like “123456” to log in to their workstation or email.
Improper Handling of Files
Your business’s files are one of your most valuable assets, and in turn, they should be treated as such. They contain much of the confidential information about your business. Additionally, they are also the fruit of your staff’s labor. Unfortunately, many remote employees may not be aware of the dangers they are exposing those precious files to every time they clock in.
There are two chief things that you should keep in mind when handling your files. Firstly, they always need to be backed up to a secure database. Took the initiative to back up files. You’ll be glad you did if an employee somehow got their hands on some ransomware or those files become corrupted. Secondly, you also need to be mindful of how you share those files. Merely uploading them and sending them as an attachment is not adequate.
The bottom line is that all sensitive data needs to be encrypted before shared. This is also true for backing it up to your database, as well. By taking these preemptive measures, you can help keep your company’s private information safe. This is especially important in the event that a cyber thief or a corrupted file threatens the livelihood of your business.
Use of Personal Devices
Finally, the use of personal devices from your remote employees can pose a major threat to your business’s security. No doubt, they may not intentionally be trying to expose your company to these security threats. But, by using their personal devices, they could still be putting your data in harm’s way.
Buying work-only laptops for remote staff isn’t always feasible. So, you will need to take extra measures to help keep personal devices safe. Who would have thought that hackers would target your employee’s voicemail or try to infiltrate their printer’s network? To offset this, inform your staff that they need to turn off the “print from anywhere” feature on their printers. Also, always make sure they enable the encryption software on their smartphones.
Has Your Remote Team’s Security Been Compromised?
Security breaches are far more common than you might realize, and research has indicated that nearly half of all workplace data breaches were caused by employee negligence. Discovering that one of your remote employees has compromised your business’s security can be alarming. But, being on the lookout for evidence of these issues can help give you a defensive edge against scammers.
There are many common signs that a remote employee has exposed your company. These signs can include the presence of new programs on their workstation computer. You might also see an influx of pop-up advertisements. Additionally, their mouse or keyboard is getting hijacked, or they have a sluggish computer. However, you can help prevent your business from being the next victim of an unwanted security breach. Just start by introducing more strict security measures and talking to your team about the importance of good security.