If there was the best time for remote work, it’s today.
More professionals than ever are choosing to work outside offices these days. According to a survey of over 15,000 individuals conducted by Gallup, in 2016 43% of American workers said they spent at least some time working remotely.
Innovations in communication technologies have allowed an increasing number of professionals to work from home offices, client locations, or even beach houses.
The ability of the modern workforce to work from anywhere enables companies to snatch the best talent, no matter where it’s located. Organizations are no longer restricted to candidate pools available in their immediate location.
The trend for remote work also affects the ways in which companies now secure data and devices. With a decentralized infrastructure come new risks and dangers. An employee’s device might get infected with malware that can quickly infiltrate the company network and affect the security of company data.
The ubiquitous mobile devices are susceptible to data leaks – they get stolen or lost, and are generally easier to access than desktop computers.
Here are 5 tips to help you develop smart security practices that allow your workers’ full freedom while ensuring that your company data is safe from any external breaches.
1. Build A Secure Connection To Company Network
Your first step is to set up a system that will provide your workers with secure means for accessing your company network.
You can purchase a tool that will make sure that all your employed have specific components installed on their devices. These include security patches and other relevant configurations. The tools will also monitor employee devices for signs of infection and deliver comprehensive security reports.
If you’re using Windows, Microsoft’s Windows Server Essentials (formerly Small Business Server) might be a good choice. It not only enables remote network access but also ensures data protection. You can also consider tools such as Juno Pulse by Jupiter or Cisco’s AnyConnect.
The tool choice is wide, so you’re bound to find a solution that meets all your security needs.
2. Limit Access To Data
A good way to protect your data is limiting the access options available to remote employees. Limit access to resources to which a particular user is entitled – basically the information that comes in handy in their daily work. You should also reduce the capabilities of users for copying or storing data.
Network access control tools help businesses limit access to sanctioned users, but also applications or devices. You can be sure that only authorized employees accessing the network from authorized devices will be able to interact with your data.
Have a mobile device management system in place as well – it will ensure that only users who have been registered can access sensitive data. Audit all data access and you’ll be on your way to protecting it efficiently.
3. Consider Cloud Applications
Handing off the responsibility for data security to cloud service providers might seem risky, but it’s, in fact, a very sensible thing to do.
These providers are better equipped and staffed to keep your data safe than you. Security generates immense expenses, and few businesses can protect their data centers and infrastructure as well as professional cloud providers.
Much small business use Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365 suite to provide their remote employees with access to office applications and resources.
Make sure that your administrator and all employees use strong passwords for their accounts. Remind them not to reuse passwords they’re using for other platforms or applications.
Some cloud providers offer 2-step authentication modalities of access, so do your research and pick a provider who has a solution that matches your security needs.
4. Ask Employees To Use A VPN When Connecting To A Public Network
Virtual private network (VPN) software is a smart solution for boosting the security of the connection created between your company network and the devices of remote workers.
And that’s especially important if your employees like to work from cafes or co-working spaces with public WiFi access. A VPN that encrypts the internet traffic of your workers is a smart investment. Have a look here to learn about the best VPN software for Windows.
5. Protect The Mobile Devices Of Your Workforce
The vast majority of threats like data-stealing malware infects devices through email or the web. How to reduce the chances of a security breach? Some employers believe that the best measure is simply forbidding employees to access the web for personal browsing or emailing.
But in remote work, that’s just not realistic. It’s rare for companies that employ remote workers to equip them with devices – and even if they did, the above would have still been a tall order.
You want devices connecting to your network to be able to go everywhere and still be protected. That’s why you should invest in quality security software and urge your employees to download critical application updates that often feature new security patches.
It’s smart to activate automatic updates instead of relying on workers to remember about updating their software. You can do that through most software providers or with the use of a patch-management tool like Windows Intune.
But what if one of your remote workers loses their device? The best way to mitigate the potential damage coming from a third party accessing a lost device is a piece of solid encryption software.
That kind of software will keep unauthorized users from accessing any of the data stored on the device. You should also have remote-wipe apps on hand for incidents like that – after all, it’s much easier to lose a mobile device than a desktop CP.
It goes without saying that companies that rely on remote workers expose themselves to new security challenges. But the benefits of employing remote talent easily outweighs the risks.
Use these 5 tips to safeguard your company’s sensitive information and allow your business to thrive thanks to the skills and expertise of workers located all over the globe.