Security Best Practices for Managing Remote Workers

Terry Hearn

Terry Hearn Researcher and Copywriter

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Maintaining a secure network is critical to business success but with remote working becoming increasingly popular, how do you secure your sensitive information when everyone works remotely?

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No matter the industry in which you do business, chances are the question of remote working has come up. This is especially the case with younger workers, as remote working is a popular notion among both members of the millennial generation as much as the emerging generation Z workforce.

The rise of remote working among many industries is no secret, and technology has enabled teams to break up geographically without sacrificing anything in terms of practicality or getting results. Apps that coordinate teams and projects are a dime a dozen, and high speed internet being largely available to all means laptops and smart devices are now as viable as the classic office computer.

Nevertheless, there are considerations worth keeping in mind, and conversations worth having, when it comes to keeping a remote worker or a remote team of workers safe and secure. With businesses of all sizes vulnerable to cybercrime, having some best practices to hand can help you and your workforce avoid some costly mistakes in online security.

Educate your team accordingly

You know what they say - knowledge is half the battle. With that in mind, you’ll find that making sure your team is up to speed on the risks of remote working can help you all to be more proactive, rather than reactive, to the threats.

Cybersecurity is very easy to see as somebody else’s problem, especially when members of your remote working team are using their own hardware. But with almost 90% of data breaches over the last two years being the result of human error - be that a weak password or a carelessly clicked on email that turned out to be a phishing scam - knowledge is power in keeping remote workers secure.

Your company’s best kept secrets, bank account details and client data can all fall into the wrong hands if your remote workers are too laid back about best practices, so make sure you have a uniform set of protocols in place for safe surfing and collaborating long distance.

With the number of remote workers only set to rise in the future, this is as good a time as any to get ahead of the game. Work with your team to find out where your strengths and weaknesses are in cybersecurity, and find a solution you can all work with.

Best practices for remote worker security

Making sure that remote workers who have supplied their own hardware can keep the rest of your business safe can often feel like a thorny subject to navigate. After all, if you’re working with the globally growing number of freelancers and subcontractors in a remote working capacity, it can seem as though you’re questioning their credibility.

However, it’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that remote workers in your team, be they contractors or employees, get behind a Bring Your Own Device policy.

This sets some company-wide ground rules that ensure every device can work within the same online security framework as everyone else.

Best practices such as installing a company-wide antivirus program and using a two-factor authentication system for logins can help to keep security tight across the board, along with basic education in how to spot phishing scams and suspicious links.

Make use of secure and encrypted connections

Many a ghost story of the digital age has been told about the perils of public Wi-Fi. Managers in charge of projects that incorporate remote team members, however, can hardly suggest putting a ban workers making use of public Wi-Fi to submit work or increase productivity.

Remote workers often prefer the surroundings of a library or coffee shop to help push their brains into productivity mode, and with that comes a reliance on traditionally less-than-secure Wi-Fi networks. That’s before you add in the idea that workers who are contributing from home might have poor security behaviours of their own too.

Micromanaging all these variables will only frustrate employees. There are better ways to ensure that people are connecting to your network and transferring files safely, you simply need to identify the simplest solutions for them.

When it comes to public Wi-Fi, part of your security policy should state that workers using these networks agree to connecting via a virtual private network, which can shroud their online activities behind layers of encryption. Instead of transferring documents and payments over a public network that could easily be intercepted, using a VPN will ensure that anything being sent and received is hidden from outside view.

Altogether, helping your remote workers to keep both themselves and your business secure comes down to ensuring that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the risks of cybersecurity today, and the best practices in dealing with them.

Your team might be spread all over the city, if not the globe, but your policies and strategies for staying safe online, while remaining productive, are best when they’re uniform. Luckily, they don’t need to be restrictive and imposing. A few simple measures is all it takes to ensure you can all breathe easy and focus on your work -- wherever you choose to call your office.

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