In the past few months, many companies have transitioned to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications such as Slack, Zoom, Teams, and other cloud-based software have made it easier than ever for employees to continue collaborating and working efficiently from various locations. However, companies are quickly finding remote work also opens the door to more data security risks.

Whether you’re one of the big wigs cringing at all the things that could go wrong or a lower-level employee working on the couch in sweatpants, we’ve put together a few suggestions to ensure remote employees are working securely.

Tips for Companies

  1. Set a cybersecurity standard. Implementing a cybersecurity policy will create a company-wide understanding of its importance. Having employees review and sign a copy of the policy will increase awareness of the issue and exemplify that it is a priority. Be sure to include things like protocols and best practices.
  2. Conduct cybersecurity training.  Don’t assume cybersecurity best practices are common knowledge. In fact, if you need to establish a starting point, assume everyone knows nothing. This will urge you to start training from the ground up, making sure nothing gets skipped over. It can be difficult to set aside time for training but building a strong foundation can save you big in the long run.
  3. Utilize your IT department. Training is great, but some things are best left for the professionals. Let your IT employees use their expertise to implement and monitor security protections such as hard drive encryption, firewalls, antivirus software, etc.
  4. Have a plan for the worst. Data leaks, hacks, and other data threats seem all too common these days. It’s wise to have a contingency plan ready if an incident ever takes place. This should include what to do, who to contact, and other useful failsafes. Hopefully, all of your cybersecurity efforts pay off and this plan is never needed.

Tips for Remote Employees

  1. Keep your personal and professional devices separate when possible. Your personal devices may not have the same security features enabled as your professional devices. If you need to do work on a personal device, check in with your IT coworkers to confirm the same level of protection.
  2. Keep your system and application software up to date. Updates often address bugs and other software issues. Keeping these up to date minimizes the risk of attackers exploiting known vulnerabilities.
  3. Use a VPN. Unsecure wi-fi networks aren’t safe. It’s best to avoid them entirely, but if you’re working from your local coffee shop or somewhere else, you may need to make do. Using a VPN will encrypt your internet traffic and keep you secure. Ghostery Midnight’s VPN includes 5 locations to cloak your IP address and protect your online activity.
  4. Create strong and unique passwords and use a password manager. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people use the same password over and over again. Change it up. Password managers make it easy to keep track of your logins, and they’ll often help generate stronger passwords if you don’t want to come up with them on your own.
  5. Utilize two-factor authentication (2FA). This adds an additional layer of security to logins in case passwords are ever compromised.
  6. Slow down and use common sense. Many security issues can be avoided, or at least mitigated, by taking time to consider your actions and apply commons sense. Phishing scams and other cons are prevalent. Be wary of opening emails from unknown senders, clicking on suspicious links, downloading unknown files, etc.