Remote work is growing at an incredible pace. A recent analysis notes that telecommuting has increased by 44 percent in the past five years, and nearly 5 million people in the United States now work remotely.
As many employers struggle with a shortage of workers to fill highly skilled positions, the tolerance for telecommuting for at least some of the workweek has continued to skyrocket. Workers appreciate the flexibility of working remotely, but along with the convenience comes a range of security risks. What are some steps you and your remote workers can take to help keep your data and network safe?
Chuck Lobert with Vision Computer Solutions in Detroit, MI shares insights on how remote workers can keep data and the business network safe.
Use Caution in Unsecured Locations
One of the advantages of remote work is the ability to engage in tasks just about anywhere with an available internet connection. The problem is that many of those convenient connections may not provide sufficient security.
Public Wi-Fi hotspots represent some of the most-problematic connections. Libraries, restaurants, coffee shops, airports and other public locations frequently offer unsecured hotspots that don’t require a password. Even in a home office, a Wi-Fi network without proper security protocols can pose risks.
Use a Reliable VPN
When you allow workers to telecommute, you may not have the ability to limit internet access to secure connections. However, you can take an important step to secure your equipment, networks and proprietary data by requiring your team members to use a VPN.
A VPN — or virtual private network — routes all internet traffic through a third-party service that provides a layer of protection between your remote worker and your internal network and files.
The VPN protects any activity that requires an online connection, including web browsing, email and accessing your internal servers. Whether the employee uses a tablet, laptop or smartphone, a VPN hides the originating IP address, sends all traffic through the VPN provider’s servers and encrypts the data.
Choose the Right Security Software and Protocols
By installing certain software on your networks and connected machines, you also gain additional protection.
Data Loss Prevention software allows you to control where — and to whom — sensitive data may be transferred. DLP software allows your network administrator to implement data controls, block unauthorized access to certain data, and detect breaches.
Another type of software, advanced threat detection, incorporates artificial intelligence and machine learning to help spot attacks in your network. By sniffing out suspicious files and activity patterns, the software identifies increasingly sophisticated malware.
In addition to advanced security software, 2-factor authentication provides an additional layer of protection. Through the 2-factor process, a remote worker uses two different methods for identifying themselves as they log into your network. For example, your protocol might require a password or PIN along with a physical smart card or fingerprint provided through a connected reader.
Should a breach occur, an effective response plan — including the designation of team members responsible for receiving alerts, notifying your leadership team and taking defensive actions — can help you contain the damage quickly.