On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, forever altering our world. Since then, we have seen massive changes across every industry as many operations shift from the boardroom to the living room. As new strains of the virus continue to impact global operations, it’s becoming clear that remote work is here to stay. In fact, a Gartner report forecasts that by 2022, 53% of the U.S. workforce will be operating in hybrid or fully remote work models. However, the rapid adoption of these models comes with new cybersecurity challenges.
Over the last two years, we have already seen a startling rise in phishing scams, ransomware attacks and data breaches. As a result, security teams and IT professionals have had to quickly adapt to this shift in work environments. Still, hackers continue to change and improve upon their methods to stay ahead of the game and take advantage of the vulnerable situation.
Here are six ways you can improve the cybersecurity of your remote workforce:
Boost network security
Network security systems, such as firewalls and antivirus software, are essential to securing company endpoints, customer data and other sensitive information from potential leaks. Be sure to frequently update these systems with the latest patches, as older versions may become obsolete due to security flaws. Instituting a “Zero Trust” policy can also improve your network’s protection by treating each remote access request as though it came from an unsecured network; this way, users can only gain access after verifying their identity. You will also need to ensure that all remote workers use protected Wi-Fi networks at home.
Utilize virtual private networks (VPNs)
VPNs are an essential part of network security, especially when employees are working outside of the office. These private networks are designed to secure your internet connection by encrypting any data shared between different networks. It’s vital to have a company VPN that employees can use at any time, and it’s equally important to ensure they never turn it off. However, VPNs can become easily overloaded, creating vulnerabilities and causing operational difficulties for your business. To prevent overwhelming your VPN, you can choose a service provider with an extensive network, manage traffic through split tunneling and prioritize usage for specific services requiring increased security.
Secure personal devices
The first step in securing personal devices is to equip your employees with the right tools. This may include robust antivirus software, VPNs and password managers. There should also be a policy in place requiring employees to change their passwords periodically without reusing old ones. You should also take into account password complexity and set a minimum for the length and types of characters used. Employer-provided devices can also improve your security; however, these devices should only be used for work-related tasks and only by an authorized employee. By separating the use of private and provided devices, you reduce the cybersecurity risks surrounding the use of work devices for personal activities.
Train your workforce
As hackers increasingly target stay-at-home workers, it’s crucial that employees stay vigilant about possible security threats. A 2020 Ponemon report surveying IT security experts from around the globe found that 63% of U.S. respondents saw an increase in phishing attacks, a trend that is expected to continue in 2022. Requiring cybersecurity awareness training can inform employees of current and potential risks and help identify phishing attempts before they infiltrate your organization’s systems. Despite this, there will inevitably be a few attempts that aren’t caught immediately. In these scenarios, it’s vital that employees report any suspicious activity, whether it be a suspicious link or an infected file.
Improve authentication methods
Perhaps the worst cyberattack of 2021 took place in May when Colonial Pipeline was hit with ransomware that temporarily shut down its operations. The attack vector hackers exploited was a single compromised password that was not protected by multifactor authentication (MFA). An MFA system requires two or more tests to verify a user’s identity before granting access to files and data. This can be as simple as security questions and push notifications or as complex as biometric scanners. Having these additional verification steps in place reduces the risk of unauthorized personnel accessing sensitive information and infecting your systems with malware.
Ensure your organization is secure with Faronics
As remote working models become the norm, companies must reevaluate their cybersecurity practices to ensure all connected devices are protected from bad actors. Fortunately, Faronics can help in these endeavors by equipping organizations with security solutions that prevent ransomware infections and safeguard valuable information. Our antivirus software provides virus, spyware, rootkit and firewall protection which detects malware before it impacts your company’s machines. Faronics’ Deep Freeze protects passwords and ensures all security software is up-to-date, even when computers are “frozen.”
To learn more about how Faronics can boost your cybersecurity, contact us today.