Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the world of business has become more remote than ever. Employers have realized that employees can be just as productive when they work from home, and the cost savings is awesome for a company’s bottom line. On top of that, technology makes it easier than ever for us to communicate seamlessly as if we were in the same office.
However, remote work also leaves the chance for an increase in cybercrime. The continued reliance on tech and the fact that employees are not under the safety blanket of IT like they are in the office can allow hackers to gain access and steal company data with little resistance. The good news is that there are many ways that you can protect your team and your data even when everyone works at home.
Here are some of the best methods to prevent and thwart cybercrime.
Prevention is Key
If your employees hope to continue to enjoy the independence of working from home, then they need to understand the importance of cybercrime and the risks to the company and their position if they allow a cyber threat to take hold.
Right now, the costs associated with recovering from a cyber attack are at $25,000, and it can only go up from there if your customers decide to sue for failing to keep their information safe. Some companies may not be able to recover from such a financial setback, and if they fail, then your staff could lose their jobs.
So, management needs to push the importance of cybersecurity from day one by hosting training courses during an employee’s orientation period, followed by continuous supplemental training throughout their employment.
Once an employee has been taught about the risks and how to protect their computer, the human resources team should have them sign off on what they learned. Doing so both encourages your staff to retain the information, and it can be used as proof if the employees ever ignore the risks on purpose.
To teach your workforce how to be secure, management first needs to know about the current threats and how they are perpetrated. While many scams like phishing emails are well known, there will always be new threats. To ensure that you are doing everything you can to be on top of these issues, you should run real-time data analytics with artificial intelligence and other machine learning software.
In essence, machine learning helps by analyzing every third-party cloud system, program, and piece of data to check for viruses. On top of that, AI can also look at past threats and use that information to predict future issues and alert you before they become a reality. Computers can think and act faster than the human brain, so you will want this technological counterpart to be there to protect your brand.
While no cyber threat is good, if you can prevent them from occurring in the first place, then company ownership will save themselves a lot of headaches.
Protections for Employees With Home Offices
If your employees work from their homes, then you need to protect them using similar safeguards that you implement at the office. Start by requiring all employees to use proper passwords that don’t involve personal information but instead use a detailed combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
To be extra secure, the IT team should also introduce multi-factor authentication. Basically, this is a second input that the employee must enter to access their devices. Consider a biometric scan like an eyeball or fingerprint, which is the hardest safeguard for hackers to crack.
The computers of all employees should be loaded with an antivirus software package, and either the employees or the IT team should be responsible for running scans of their systems several times per week. This is another great way to prevent intrusions since viruses that are found can be wiped out before they cause further damage.
Remember that antivirus software should be updated whenever a new version becomes available so it can protect against the newest threats.
Management should also consider restricting employee access on their computers so that they can only use the programs and websites that they need to complete their work. Social media is a breeding ground for cybercrime, and the more websites that employees visit, the more the chance of clicking a malicious link or downloading a virus increases.
You might also consider having the staff sign a policy that says that they will not use their work equipment outside of the home or for entertainment purposes, so the risk reduces even further. On top of that, IT should ensure that each remote employee has a strong firewall as an added source of protection.
Securing Employees Who Work Out and About
In some remote work arrangements, employees are allowed to leave home and work out of public places like the park or coffee shops or restaurants. In these cases, your company must be extra vigilant to ensure its protection against cybercriminals. For starters, install and place every employee on a virtual private network. A VPN will disguise the employee’s location and encrypt all incoming and outgoing data so it cannot be used if stolen.
If you have your employees working in random places throughout the world, then it is also a good idea to have all programs and data housed on a cloud computing network. In addition to providing the ability for you to work and access your information from anywhere, many cloud companies also have their own prevention systems, and 24-hour IT support that can check for cyberthreats at all times, so you don’t have to do it on your end.
In addition to cloud based-storage, provide employees who work on the road with a reliable laptop that functions well and includes all proper protections.
Finally, your employees need to be advised of the dangers associated with using unsecured Wi-Fi networks when working out in public. Cybercriminals set up fake networks that look like the real deal in hopes of luring in unsuspecting patrons, but if your employee logs on, they are attaching themselves to the hacker, and from there, the criminal can break into your corporate network.
To prevent this issue, employees should be required to ask the manager for the correct network or avoid public Wi-Fi altogether.
As you can see, there are many tactics that you can use to protect your remote workers against hackers and cybercriminals. Consider implementing these tips today so your team can work in confidence.