Remote work allows people to conduct their day-to-day jobs away from the fluorescent glow of a corporate office—trading in water cooler chit-chat and frequent deskside fly-bys for the ability to do some laundry on their lunch break, watch their children, or sit somewhere more ergonomically efficient than a flimsy mass-produced desk chair.
For many, the idea of working from home—or from a coffee shop, or a hotel, or even on the road—was a distant pipe dream. However, given the events of the past two years, remote work has seen mainstream acceptance. Not born from desire, necessarily, but from necessity.
Unfortunately, while people may feel more comfortable away from the office, their cybersecurity instincts tend to take a hit. These lax attitudes leave the door unlocked—or wide open—to a growing number of IT security threats.
Thinking of shifting to a remote work setting? Before you give your employees the go-ahead, give TCI a call to see if you’re ready to make the change.
The Popularity of Remote Work
Remote work was gaining traction long before the pandemic, but the events of the last two years have pushed many companies (both small and large) to adopt a full-time remote work policy or, at the very least, a hybrid model that allows employees to work in the office some days and work elsewhere other days.
Did You Know:
- 16% of companies around the world are 100% remote
- 22% of the American workforce will be fully remote by 2025
- 77% of remote workers say they’re more productive at home
- 85% of managers believe remote work will become “the new norm”
- 97% of employees don’t even want to return to the office full-time
Remote Work Risks
While there are still many industries that are unable to accommodate remote work policies, there are just as many that can and have. Larger companies have been able to use their own information technology departments to develop security plans for remote employees, but smaller businesses may not have the resources to implement such plans.
Without strengthened cybersecurity infrastructure, these businesses are left open to malicious external threats or internal problems wrought by employees who simply don’t know any better.
Here are three of the top risks to watch out for when adopting a remote work policy:
Working remotely means working away from your business’s hard line. Public wi-fi puts employees and potentially confidential information—like PPI, or protected personal information—at risk of being seen or stolen. Without a secure network in place, or without the added protection of a VPN (virtual private network), your company is at risk.
One of those risks is phishing, or the practice of sending emails that pretend to be reputable companies, to trick employees into relaying secure information like passwords, credit card numbers, bank account details, or sensitive company material.
Phishing scams have become more advanced and more common over the years, with the best setups looking nearly identical to a company’s very own emails. The relaxed sense of security brought on by remote work may cause employees to miss subtle differentiating details.
We get it. People feel comfortable at home. With that comfort comes a relaxed attitude, which makes company-owned hardware more susceptible to physical damage. From spilled drinks to rogue flying toys, no piece of hardware is ever truly out of harm’s way.
Unfortunately, working remotely means less immediate access to an IT department. If a computer breaks, employees usually have to send it in for repair via mail. In addition to the cost of new hardware, until a new unit arrives, that employee—and the company—are losing out on valuable man-hours
How to Strengthen Your Cybersecurity
Ready to make the switch to remote work? Follow these three tips to ensure your business and your employees are protected from malicious cyber attacks.
1. Use a VPN
Body: One study found that 62% of wi-fi security incidents took place over public networks, like those found in local coffee shops or airport lounges.
If employees are using personal wi-fi networks within their own homes or external public networks, we highly recommend setting them up with access to a VPN. This simple digital accessory can secure a connection and encrypt data, keeping your employee’s information—and your company’s—safe from prying eyes.
2. Create Strong Passwords
One of the simplest security practices is to use strong, hard-to-guess passwords. Unfortunately, many people still use short, easy passwords like “1234” or “admin.” Even when required to use longer passwords, some opt for examples like “abcdefg.” Adding a special character? Exclamation point—the first one available—should do, right?
Wrong. We recommend people use a combination of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters in no certain order. Don’t use birthdays, anniversaries, or other strings like bank PINs.
This tool allows users to see how long it would take for a computer to crack their password. For a password like “admin”, it would take less than one second. However, a randomized password like “@ju90Mqd3!000hgR” could take a computer more than 400 trillion years to guess.
Additionally, the use of two-factor authentication and digital password managers can keep those passwords safe from external access.
3. Store Data In The Cloud
Cloud storage is notoriously trustworthy and becomes more secure by the day. Don’t believe us? Just ask the big players like Apple and Google. Storing sensitive data on cloud-based servers adds a sophisticated level of encryption to your system. Beyond that, cloud storage removes the possibility of losing secure files to hardware loss caused by drops, spills, and theft.
Talk to TCI
Ready to implement your new remote work policy? The experts at TCI are here to help set up, monitor, and maintain your security infrastructure with a comprehensive package of services, allowing you to focus on the work that matters without having to worry about whether or not your employees, your assets, and your data is secure.