The rise of remote work has created unprecedented cybersecurity risks for companies. In 2021, 76%...
Remote Workforce Security: 5 Best Practices for Telecommuting
The exponential growth in telecommuting has gotten ahead of remote workforce security, leaving businesses vulnerable to wide-reaching cyberattacks. The term “telecommuting” was coined in 1973, followed by IBM allowing a five-person team to work offsite. Ten years later, 2,000 employees logged in through personal computers. Today, a reported 12.7 percent of full-timers and 28.2 percent of part-time workers telecommute.
Although work-from-anywhere practices were steadily increasing, the pandemic appears to have fast-tracked the telecommute transition. With staff members and freelancers accessing company networks from laptops, desktops, smartphones, and other devices, securing a remote workforce has become problematic. If you want to know how to secure your remote workforce, it’s crucial to understand the current threat landscape. Then, implement telecommuting best practices for employers and employees to follow.
Top Telecommuting Cybersecurity Threats
The benefits of managing a remote workforce are undeniable. Companies gain access to talents outside their drivable commuter radius, reduced office space, and lower equipment expenses. Unfortunately, there is a strong correlation between telecommuting and cyberattacks.
During the pandemic, for example, cyberattacks increased by a reported 238 percent as companies established work-from-home policies. These are reasons why it’s mission-critical to better secure your remote workforce.
- Phishing & Spear-Phishing Schemes: Cybercriminals routinely use electronic messaging tactics to target employers and employees. Garden variety hackers send thousands of emails prompting recipients to click on a malicious link or download a malware-laced file. More sophisticated criminals trick staff members into giving away login credentials.
- Unsecured Devices: Employees and third parties with approved access to your business network have a tendency to use unvetted personal devices. Comingling personal email, social media accounts, and professional tasks on an unsecured device can be a recipe for disaster.
- Public Wi-Fi: When users grow comfortable logging into the company network from places like coffee shops and libraries, they are setting themselves up. Savvy cybercriminals create elaborate platforms that mirror public Wi-Fi portals. Once someone connects, hackers can see their username and password. It’s like giving hackers the keys to the kingdom.
Other major issues involve a lack of robust password management, as well as lost and stolen devices. As an industry leader tasked with creating a secure remote workforce that maintains regulatory compliance, cybersecurity awareness training is a key to success. By developing and implementing best practices for telecommuting, you can harden your attack surface.
5 Best Practices for Telecommuting
Businesses are on a trajectory to sustain over $10.5 trillion in global losses as cybercrime increases through 2025. With convenient remote services such as telehealth now a permanent practice in the economy, the urgency around telecommunity cybersecurity — in healthcare and beyond — will only continue to increase.
There were a reported 11 data breaches that exposed more than 1 million personal records in 2022, and another 14 that comprised more than 500,000 files. Numbers like these should have businesses and organizations in all sectors scrambling for telecommuting safeguards.
Below are the top telecommuting best practices for employers to adopt:
1: Provide VPNs to Remote Talents
Virtual private networks allow remote workers to log into a secure Wi-Fi signal. By investing in VPNs, companies are better insulated from ransomware attacks that could shutter the organization. It’s crucial to insist VPNs are used as a matter of company policy and best practices.
2: Establish Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Business leaders have two choices: teach employees about phishing, spear-phishing, and other hacking schemes or suffer a data breach. By educating your workforce and having a cybersecurity expert send periodic threat alerts, remote team members become a front line of defense.
3: Use Two-Factor Authentication
Tenacious cybercriminals may find a way to learn someone’s username and password. But two-factor authentication can frustrate even clever hackers. This practice sends a code to a secondary device that users must enter. By sending the code to a secondary device, possessing a username and password does hackers no good.
4: Allow Only Approved Devices to Access Network
One of the key reasons personal devices create vulnerabilities is they are not fully secured. It’s crucial that remote workers use only fully vetted devices. A cybersecurity professional can install enterprise-level firewalls, anti-virus software, and build-in encryption capabilities for transmitting sensitive communications and files.
5: Pivot to Zero-Trust User Profiles
Zero-trust profiles are a best practice every organization would be well-served to consider. This strategy limits network access to remote and in-house team members. Each profile has the bandwidth to complete routine tasks and projects. Permission is required to enter spaces with other sensitive and valuable digital assets. If a hacker leverages someone’s login credentials, the criminal is also restricted.
CyberTeam Can Help You Build Remote Workforce Security
At CyberTeam, our managed IT and cybersecurity consulting experts have the experience and technology to help you craft and implement best practices for securing a remote workforce. We start by conducting a risk assessment to gain a clear understanding of your strengths and vulnerabilities. Then, we present the findings to your leadership team to develop a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. Schedule a risk assessment with us and begin the process of improving your defenses.