By guest author Sharon McDougall of Scotland Debt Solutions.
Without safeguards in place companies face the prospect of having information stolen by hackers, or being held to ransom for their most sensitive data. So what can businesses do to protect themselves when employees work from home or from a remote location?
A strong cyber security policy can provide the background to the dangers of a data breach, and by ensuring all employees read and sign the policy they take greater ownership of the issue.
It should include the protocols to be followed by remote workers, and the resources available to employees to help them observe the policy, so all fully understand what is expected of them.
Regular training events keep staff up-to-date on current cyber security issues, whilst also providing them with the awareness and knowledge to recognise and deal with non-standard occurrences when they’re working remotely.
Regular training events help employees to understand the importance of cyber security for their employer, and crucially, how to prevent a data security breach by proactively keeping hackers at bay.
Connecting to an unsecured Wi-Fi network whilst working remotely is just one instance where company data is placed at risk. Using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, provides a secure connection and hides internet activity by encrypting data.
Although convenient, public Wi-Fi networks in locations such as coffee shops and restaurants are known to be risky from a security point-of-view, and particularly dangerous for businesses holding sensitive data.
Creating strong, complex passwords, and changing them regularly, is paramount in the fight against hackers. Password management software can organise and simplify employee logins, and may be used across different types of device.
Email, banking, and social media logins are offered another layer of protection against security breach, and employees can gain more confidence that they’re logging in safely to the sites they need for work.
Multifactor authentication provides various levels of security for company data. It could require employees to receive a text message with a unique code, for example, or to answer a security question, or perhaps receive a phone call to confirm their identity.
For organisations or environments that are at particularly high risk, biometric data can be used to bolster data security. This might involve facial or voice recognition, or fingerprint scanning.
Cloud storage provides a central location for employees to upload files securely. By regularly creating backups, hackers are also less likely to be able to successfully hold the business to ransom for vital information.
Anti-malware and antivirus software, and a firewall, should be installed on all devices used by remote workers. All software needs to be regularly updated to the current version so that files and emails can be reliably scanned for viruses.
Working remotely with anti-malware constantly running in the background on all work devices further protects the company from malicious software, and can quickly detect and remove it as necessary.
If companies choose to ban the use of personal devices for work purposes they could make it part of their formal cyber security policy, particularly if they believe they’re at high risk of a security breach.
A multi-layered approach safeguards commercial data and protects businesses from unrelenting attempts by cyber criminals to hack their information, but awareness and a clear understanding of the issues is the first step in thwarting their plans.
This article was written by guest author Sharon McDougall of Scotland Debt Solutions.