by: Lindsay Denton, Copywriter
Amid the current global pandemic, many companies have had to turn to remote work. Some companies will continue such practice due to expense cuts. However, it poses a significant challenge for information security. Security measures at home do not match those in the office. And while safety conditions in the office are not perfect either, it is much harder to make mistakes. For this reason, it is vital for employees who must work from home to take certain precautions to maintain online security when working remotely. Some of these precautions may seem obvious. However, precisely because they are so obvious, they often slip people's minds. Therefore, if you are among those who have moved to home offices, take a look at the following points and check whether you are doing everything within your power to secure your company's data.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
You may think there is no harm in connecting to public wi-fi. Nevertheless, it is a significant security hazard. Many other people also use these networks. Therefore, without a proper firewall between you, an avid computer geek can easily access your data. A keen observer can monitor your traffic. So if you are in a public place and absolutely must do your work, use your personal hot spot. It is difficult to hack. Yes, it will spend your megabits, but there is no need to take any chances if your company provides a mobile service.
Be Extra Careful Even With Your Home Network
Although safer than public wi-fi, make sure you take some extra steps to be safe when you connect to your home network as well. Firstly, change the login and password on your router. Secondly, ensure that your wi-fi is encrypted. Next, protect your device with antivirus and update all of your software regularly. Cybercriminals rely on you forgetting to do so and will jump at any chance they get. Every new update contains patches for the weak spots in the previous version of your security system. So it makes it harder for hackers to access your computer. Finally, use VPNs. It is a useful trick. However, beware that they protect the data to and from a VPN provider, not the destination.
Only Use Your Work Computer for Remote Work
You may need to send just a few quick emails from your personal laptop. For whatever reason, you cannot use the company one. The battery is empty, you have misplaced the charger, etc. Your company probably has an IT team in charge of implementing security measures. So your home computer likely does not follow the same security protocols. Additionally, you may not know it, but a third party could have compromised your personal computer.
Never Leave Your Device Unattended
Perhaps this goes without saying, but you can never be too careful. So, if you are working at a cafe and need to go to the restroom, take the laptop with you. Never ever leave it unattended, especially in a public place like that. Also, never leave devices in your car. Understandably, it is convenient to leave it in the trunk while you run a few errands but know that you are risking it being stolen.
Protect The Data And Your Devices
Sending sensitive data is always a risky business. For this reason, to maintain online security when working remotely, it would be smart to encrypt the data you send by email and the information on the computer. In case of theft, at least you know your files are protected. Furthermore, if you must charge your mobile device at a public charging station, use USB data blockers. This should go without saying, but don't let people see your computer if you are working in a public place. An interested person can see what you are doing and identify confidential information. So take a look around. Try to find a spot where nobody can sit behind you or have a clear view of your screen.
Secure CRM Data
Many companies use CRM software. It is an extremely useful tool as it stores all customer data. A breach of your CRM can have disastrous consequences for your organization. For example, the moving industry relies heavily on such software, with the tools designed especially for this niche. Given the nature of the industry, the software contains not only customer personal data but also the logistics of the move and all other information. It is of the utmost importance to secure CRM data. To do so, it is necessary to train employees adequately and closely monitor CRM activity. In case it has been compromised, it will likely show an unusual amount of activity and signal unauthorized access and data breach.
Maintain Online Security When Working Remotely by Setting Policies
To ensure your confidential data stays confidential, building security awareness in your employees is vital. You can do that by introducing security policies. These should be both technical and administrative controls of the entire company functioning. This way, everybody will know what rules they must respect, why they need to respect them, and what repercussions will be in case of conscious violations.
Employees are the ones who play the central role when it comes to the ways to maintain online security when working remotely. They are the ones who need to understand the responsibilities laid upon them. Shockingly, many people wouldn't think twice before they use a random thumb drive they have found lying around. The thought it might be a virus devised for phishing purposes wouldn't even cross their mind. Something as trivial as forgetting to lock the door is also a potential security hazard for your company. Understandably, during these turbulent times, it is hard to keep track of everything and stay productive. Therefore, it is necessary to raise security awareness among employees. And it is upon company management to incentivize their workforce and implement policies that will ensure data security.