Two months ago, working from home was a luxury that some businesses were equipped to offer. Today, it’s a necessity for professionals and their employers across the globe. In fact, it’s because the technology and infrastructure for remote work already exist that the economy has survived the stay-at-home mandate in the first place. It is incredible how teams have banded together to collaborate remotely using the tools available.
However, this sudden forced migration to a remote workforce is premature for most companies. It has led to unsecured data exposure, transmission, and access so it should come as no surprise that hackers are having a field day. Between disruption phishing, emergency service spoofing, and exposed data theft; it’s more important than ever to protect your company’s cybersecurity.
Today, we’re here to share some IT insider tips on how to secure your team’s connection when everyone is working from home.
1) Clean All Devices Used for Work
Work-from-Home is, essentially, a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. Employees are using their own personal computers, phones, and tablets to connect to work servers and handle work data. While this is wonderful for quickly creating a remote workforce, personal devices always have a small risk of lurking malware. We tend to be more careless with the apps and files we download on personal devices vs work computers. So as these personal devices become work devices, it’s important to clean them as the first step.
Walk your team through the correct procedure to clean each type of device, scanning and eliminating all currently lurking malware and deleting potentially malicious files.
In some cases, it is more expedient to simply reinstall the operating system of a laptop or home computer rather than rigorously clean the files. In this case, if employees are willing, walk them through saving personal files to a backup and starting with a fresh malware-free installation.
2) Cybersecurity Protocol Training
The single most common type of cybersecurity breach is human-error. Or rather, employees being tricked by phishing and other malicious hacker tactics to get malware onto work computers. While your team is remote and isolated from the company network’s protection, now is the time for cybersecurity protocol training, or to update that training if your team is already educated on dodging hackers and malware.
Your team needs to know how to spot a phishing email, how to detect when they’ve been redirected to a malware site, and how to respond if they suspect malware has entered their computer through a malicious link or site. When your team knows how to counteract the most common (and most commonly effective) hacker tactics, the company data they manage will be many times safer.
3) Use a Secure WiFi Network
Right now, home WiFi connections are a weak-link in the remote work chain. This is because many people, especially those working from home for the first time, don’t know how to secure a WiFi network or how common WiFi hacks really are. WiFi networks are a notorious gap in defenses, but it doesn’t have to be. Just one layer of security, a password on the family WiFi, can be enough. But it helps to add a few more layers of defense.
Defending WiFi is done on the WiFi router settings page. Start by ensuring the router software is up to date and, if not, update. From there, turn on network encryption. Give the WiFi network a unique name (SSID) and a tough password to go with it.
Walk your team through MAC address filtering. They’ll need the MAC addresses of all household devices and to make a whitelist that blocks out all unknown, un-approved devices from connecting.
4) Ensure You Have End-to-End Encryption
Encryption is an essential first and last line of defense. Encryption of your company databases, for example, ensures that even if a hacker accesses and steals that information, they can’t read it because they can’t decrypt it. End-to-end encryption ensures that company data in-use by remote team members cannot be read at any point in the exchange.
Encryption at the source defends data stored in the company network. Encryption during transit through networks and wireless internet ensures that the data can’t be read while it is traveling, a common problem. Encryption in your remote team’s devices means that even if those devices are hacked or accessed, the company’s secured data is safe.
Every program you use, every cloud-service, and every network needs to be encrypted to achieve truly secure end-to-end encryption.
5) Connect Over a Secured Virtual Network
A virtual network was designed for virtual machines but has extended its function to provide intranet-like capabilities for remotely connected teams. Virtual networks are often used to unify businesses with multiple locations, for example. What a virtual network offers your work-at-home employees is the benefits of company intranet security.
There are some forms of security that can only be performed when those connected share an internal network. Virtual networks make it possible to extend some of those defenses to remote teams and the data they work with.
6) Use Network Monitoring of the Virtual Network
One of the most important things you can do with a virtual network is to monitor it. Network monitoring is an advanced security and diagnostics tool for those who know how to use it. Network monitoring can tell everything from motherboard temperature to network access patterns for each computer connected. Monitoring a virtual network, you can detect the difference between authorized and unauthorized access to the network itself and to individual files and servers.
You can use network monitoring to recognize illicit computer resource use, indicative of hidden malware. Network monitoring can also be used to detect the early signs of an online attack due to the unusual pings and changes in resource activity associated. With network monitoring over a virtual network, your team can benefit from the advanced diagnostic defense.
7) Be Cautious with Cloud Services
Right now, everyone is relying on cloud services to stay connected. It’s great that these services are available, but not all are prepared for the responsibility of handling secure company data or defending the sudden new millions of users on their platforms. Do use cloud services to aid your remote workflow, but do so with caution. There have already been several cybersecurity incidents since the stay-at-home mandate was issued. Most notably, the zoom-bombing issue in which hackers invade private Zoom meetings to spy or cause disruption.
So be careful about your cloud services. Prioritize programs that were already designed for corporate use with integrated security features and encryption already built-in. Programs build for consumers are still catching up on the security needs of business users.
8) Assign an IT Security Team to the Job
Last but not least, one of the best things you can do to securely connect is to have an IT security team on the job. With so many businesses pushed to go remote without a proper security plan in place, IT teams are struggling to catch up. Whether your IT team is scrambling to provide security from home or you don’t have an IT team yet, we can help.
Here at TC Tech Systems, we understand that your team needs to connect securely from home and that not everyone has the tools or know-how to make that happen. As a managed IT service, we can help you set up the remote infrastructure you need and help employees connect in a remote fashion from home. Contact us today to learn more!