This is a guest post for the MELD Coworking blog written by Jack Warner.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a large segment of the global workforce into unfamiliar territory: remote work. But remote work had become a highly popular and common practice around the globe even before the pandemic struck. A 2018 study conducted by the Switzerland-based serviced office provider IWG showed that over 70 percent of employees work remotely at least once per week.
Remote work, a job arrangement in which employees do not have to commute to the office, offers plenty of benefits for organizations and their employees. For the employer, remote work improves employee retention and productivity. Remote work provides flexible scheduling, healthy work-life balance, and has become an attractive option for employees. But there are security risks to consider when working remotely.
Remote work allows employees to perform their employment duties from wherever they are. Remote workers can choose to work from home, a neighborhood coffee shop, or a coworking space they find convenient. Working remotely has its advantages, but it can also expose the company to a wide range of cyberthreats. Here are some of the ways in which remote work can endanger an organization.
- Personal Devices. In most cases, remote work requires the use of personal devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. These devices have susceptibilities that hackers can exploit to gain access to a company’s data, network, and website. They can even spread malware to the office network. Personal devices can also be stolen or lost, putting company data at risk.
- Unsecured Wi-Fi. When working remotely, many employees connect to public Wi-Fi networks and login to their work accounts. The problem here is that most of these networks are unsecured and a common vector for cyberattacks. It’s easy for a cybercriminal to intercept your login credentials and steal sensitive company data when connected to public Wi-Fi networks.
These are the major security considerations organizations must explore when implementing a remote work policy. The good news is that there are ways companies and their employees to circumvent these risks and keep enjoying the benefits of working remotely. Here are a few tips and best practices for safe and secure remote working.
What is a VPN? Short for Virtual Private Network, VPN is a service that adds security and privacy to your connection by encrypting your internet traffic and hiding your IP address. A VPN creates a private network from a public Wi-Fi connection. If you are a remote worker, download a reliable VPN, and connect securely to your office network even on questionable Wi-Fi.
Maintain Physical Control of all Your Devices at All Times
Lost or stolen devices comprise some of the most common causes of a data breach. Never leave your smartphone, tablet, or laptop unattended, whether you use it for work purposes or not. Lost or misplaced devices can lead to data breaches and cause a lot of security headaches if they fall into the hands of the wrong person.
Create Strong Passwords
Relying on simple passwords that can be cracked easily is a huge cybersecurity risk. Create strong passwords using a password generator and store them safely with a password manager tool. Strong passwords are a necessary security precaution that many remote workers fail to take. Your password is the first line of defense against attackers, so take it seriously.
Don’t Click on Links Haphazardly
Be careful when opening links or images you receive via email or text message. Hackers often use phishing to spread malware and entice users to share their login credentials as well as other sensitive data. Watch out for emails from unfamiliar sources, especially those containing strange requests and fishy-looking links.
Remote work and working from home have become very popular over the last decade. In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, many employees have been compelled to work from home in adherence to social distancing guidelines. Remote work has its benefits, but it also opens up a broad range of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Adhere to the above cybersecurity tips and best practices to secure sensitive company data when working remotely.
About the Author
Jack Warner is an accomplished cybersecurity expert with years of experience under his belt at TechWarn, a trusted digital agency to world-class cybersecurity companies. A passionate digital safety advocate himself, Jack frequently contributes to tech blogs and digital media sharing expert insights on topics such as whistleblowing and cybersecurity tools.