While a couple of years ago it was rare to find a work-from-home job, now it is more common than ever for businesses to employ partially or completely remote workforce. There are many perks to this arrangement, such as reduced operating costs and the ability to hire employees from anywhere, but the downside is the increased potential for cybercrime and data loss. When your employees are no longer working in the same building under the careful watch of the IT team, it can be more difficult to ensure that your staff is prioritizing cybersecurity.
However, while there may be a learning curve, it is far from impossible to stay protected. The trick is to ensure that every employee is educated on common threats and that they take the proper precautions to secure their home networks. While some employees may have an idea about viruses and how to avoid them, it is up to management to provide guidance.
Let’s talk about how to do that so your company can avoid a data breach.
The Risk Of Cybercrime
In order to really comprehend the importance of protecting home networks, it is important for everyone in your company to understand what is truly at risk.
Hackers love going after businesses big and small because they know about the massive amounts of corporate and customer data that is obtained and stored by most corporations. If any piece of that information falls into the wrong hands, it can be detrimental.
While many of us know that credit card and Social Security numbers can be used to commit identity fraud, many don’t realize that even seemingly arbitrary information (e.g. birth dates and email addresses etc.) can also be sold on the black market or used for future scams.
If a company is found to be negligent and to be at fault for a data breach then they could land in hot water. In addition to a hit to their reputation, there is also a financial implication.
Current studies show that the overall cost of a breach could reach upwards of four million dollars, which includes the costs of recovering your data, patching vulnerabilities, informing affected customers, and paying any potential legal fees. Employees should also be informed of these risks, so they know the repercussions. If they don’t secure their home network, then they could see their company go under.
The Company Responsibility
While employees will hold some of the responsibility, it is the company that needs to ensure that their staff is protected from the risks of cybercrime.
For starters, your company should consider offering all employees a paid home business insurance policy. In addition to protecting their homes from damage and theft, many policies also offer assistance in the case of cybercrime. Cyber insurance can be a lifesaver because it can help with the costs necessary to reprogram computers and mobile devices, recover lost data, and pay back any customers that took a financial hit due to the breach.
Finding a suitable insurance policy should be a part of the overall cybersecurity response plan that your IT team should have in place in the case that an employee’s home network is hacked. This strategy should list every process that needs to take place immediately after a breach, including which programs need to be recovered first, which team members will be responsible for those specific tasks, and how you plan to inform the public.
If remote employees will be responsible for any part of the plan, they should be notified well in advance.
Protections At Home
While having a suitable recovery plan in place is a great start, it is really best to avoid an issue before it starts.
To prevent unwanted intrusions, all employees should be required to create a complex password that includes a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. On top of that, IT should also enact a form of two-factor authentication such as a finger scan or a secondary code that is sent to the employee’s cell phone. Every few months, the passwords should be updated, and if an employee ever leaves the company, their access should be revoked.
While a strong password will keep many hackers at bay, those that can get past that first line of defense can install a virus or piece of malware within moments. To prevent those threats from taking hold, every employee should have antivirus software installed on their computer and mobile devices so any existing virus can be immediately eradicated.
Your company must stay on top of these antivirus programs and install new updates when they become available in order to stop the newest threats and deal with IT concerns remotely.
A perk that many employees enjoy in a remote environment is the ability to work from anywhere, even in public places, but without the proper protections, hackers could have an even easier time causing havoc than they do in the worker’s home office. A common tactic that cybercriminals attempt is the man-in-the-middle scam, where they create a fake network that looks like the real deal, but when the unknowing employee logs in, they are really connecting their mobile device to the hacker’s computer. From there, the hacker can gain access to the work files within and make their way into your corporate network.
To prevent this and other scams, employees should be educated on current threats and ensure that their device is properly protected. In addition to a password and a firewall, they should also consider installing a virtual private network. A VPN will automatically encrypt all incoming and outgoing data so it cannot be read if intercepted, and it will also disguise the location of the employee’s device, so they are harder to find.
As you can see, the threat of a network breach is very likely and quite dangerous, so management and employees need to work together closely to verify that their networks are secure. Consider the tips above and set yourself up for success.
We exist in a new age of business where bank robbers are no longer the main threat to our company’s safety and security. With the mass migration of offices towards the hybrid or remote workplace comes a new set of rules and protections.
Whether it is advanced cybersecurity software implementation or simple training courses for remote employees, keeping up to date on digital data protection is a must for any remote business.