Remote work is booming today. New working styles, business models, and communication technology innovations allowed for the rise of remote work. No wonder that the number of professionals who work from client locations, home offices, or even beach houses is on the rise.
Gallup conducted a survey of over 15,000 professionals and concluded that in 2016, 43% of American workers declared that they spent at least some time working remotely.
Remote work has become so popular because it brings clear benefits to employers. Since the modern workforce can work from any corner of the world, it enables companies to source and engage the best talent on the market, no matter where it’s located. Employers are no longer restricted to local candidate pools and can hire talent from the other side of the planet.
But the new trend for remote work also impacts how companies take care of data and devices.
A team of remote workers necessarily involves a decentralized infrastructure. And that kind of infrastructure poses new risks and challenges to data security. An employee’s device might easily get infected with malware and through its connection to the company network, allow the virus to quickly infiltrate it and affect the security of the entire company.
The popularity of mobile devices only makes the problem more significant. These devices are susceptible to data risks because they can get stolen or lost. They are also generally much easier to access than laptop or desktop computers.
Here are 5 essential tips to for developing solid security practices that will allow your employees to enjoy full freedom while making sure that your company data is safe from any external breaches.
#1. Build a secure connection to the company network
To provide your employees with a safe way for accessing the company network, you need to set up a secure system. Use a tool that will help you ensure that all employees have particular components installed on their devices. These components are suitable configurations, security patches, and similar elements. That kind of tool can also monitor employee devices for signs of infection and deliver full security reports.
For example, if your workforce is using Windows, Microsoft’s Windows Server Essentials (formerly called the Small Business Server) is a good pick. It will enable remote network access, with particular attention paid to data protection. Have a look around the market to check out such tools. The range is extensive, so you can be certain to find a solution that meets your security needs.
#2. Keep the mobile devices of your workforce safe
Your remote employees will be using mobile devices to connect to your network. To reduce the probability of a security breach, you might be toying with the idea to simply forbid them from accessing the web for personal emailing or browsing. After all, most threats like data-stealing malware come from email or the web.
But in the remote work model, that isn’t a realistic solution. It’s relatively rare for employers to offer their remote workers company devices. And even if you did that, it would be challenging to control employee activities.
As an employer, you want workers to be able to access the internet and still be protected. That’s why it’s smart to buy quality security software and ask your employees to download application updates on a regular basis. These often include new security patches.
If you don’t want to rely on your employees to remember about updating their software, you can activate automatic updates. Most software providers offer patch management tools. Windows Intune is an example.
What should you do if one of your remote employees loses their device? To mitigate the potential risk coming from a third party accessing this lost device, you need to invest in robust encryption software. That kind of software will make sure that no unauthorized users can access any of the data stored on the device. It’s smart to consider remote-wipe apps for such situations as well.
#3. Limit employee access to data
To ensure the security of your company data, you should limit the access options that are available to remote employees.
Your remote workers should have access to information that they need for their daily work. You can easily limit their access to the rest of your resources. It’s also smart to reduce the user options for storing data or copying it to external drives.
Consider investing in a network access control tool. It will help you to limit access to your company network to sanctioned users, applications, and devices. Only authorized employees will be able to access your business network and only from approved devices that will be able to interact with your company data.
Develop a mobile security management system. That’s how you can make sure that only the users that have been registered can access your most sensitive data. There is no better way to protect your company data.
#4. Invest in a VPN
Develop security awareness among your employees and ask them to use a VPN whenever they’re connecting to a public network. That type of software is an excellent solution for increasing the security of the connection that is created between your company network and remote devices.
If your employees like to work from co-working spaces, cafes, or other spots with public Wi-Fi access, they need a VPN. That’s how you can secure their internet traffic. Have a look here to see some recommended VPN software for Windows.
#5. Choose a secure cloud service provider
Another step you can take to make sure that your company data is fully secure is to collaborate with a cloud service provider who offers a full range of security features.
If you believe that your business data will be safer when stored on your local servers, think twice. Cloud service providers have more staff and equipment to keep your data secure. You cannot possibly develop such an infrastructure on your own unless you’re willing to dedicate a lot of resources to it. In fact, very few businesses can protect their data centers as well as professional cloud providers.
Consider Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365 suites which are very popular among companies that employ remote workers.
All your employees and administrators should know how to create strong passwords for their accounts. Be sure to remind them not to reuse passwords they’re using for other applications or platforms.
Relying on the skills and talents of remote workers exposes companies to new security challenges. But the benefits of hiring remote workers outweigh the risks. Using these five tips, you can be sure to keep your company data safe and allow your organization to thrive on the market thanks to the expertise of workers located all over the planet.