Businesses have a lot to gain by hiring remote employees, including the ability to recruit from a larger talent pool and the potential for less expensive workplace accommodations. However, remote employees introduce new challenges in IT security because of the lack of centralized IT management. While the majority of security best practices and techniques still apply, your business and its remote employees will need to take a more hands-on approach to properly protect devices and information. Remote workers introduce the following unique IT security challenges:
1. Increased Importance of Human-Based Security Policies
Remote workers need to be more self-directed when it comes to IT security, as there’s no physically centralized IT staff or infrastructure to reinforce safe practices. A business with remote employees should establish a well-developed set of strict security guidelines to protect both devices and online information.
2. Reduced Reliance on Centralized IT to Secure Devices
Any device used for company work needs to be secured with strong passwords, updated operating system software, current antivirus software and regular malware scans. All applications need to be patched to the most recent versions, too.
Hackers take advantage of weak security practices and known vulnerabilities that were patched by attacking unpatched software installations.
Employees will need to make sure all devices they use for work are properly updated and secured.
3. Potential Threats From Personal Devices
Just as with in-office staff, remote employees often use many different devices to do their jobs. They don’t use only the company-provided laptop; they may also use personal smartphones, tablets and computers. While remote IT services can access and update company-owned devices, ensuring personal devices are secured entirely falls on the remote employees.
4. A Lack of Office Network Security
Remote employees do not have the benefit of office network security. Instead, they are likely spending most of their time working on a personal network from their homes. This means employees need to configure their own secure Wi-Fi connection with a strong password and keep both their router and modem updated with the latest firmware. Additionally, remote employees need to change the default password on all networked devices, including the router and IoT devices.
5. Protecting Online Information
While office-based employees transfer a great deal of data over the internet, remote employees do almost all of their work online. If possible, your company can protect this data by configuring a VPN for remote employee use. Businesses should use cloud applications, such as Google’s office suite, whenever possible. These programs are automatically updated and won’t introduce legacy security issues with information exchanged online. Additionally, remote employees are likely to store and share most of their work over cloud-hosted platforms, so your company will also need to consider the security of those platforms.
If your business is considering the addition of remote employees or you want to make existing remote work more secure, the experts at MPA Networks can help. Through IT managed services and desktop management, we can provide your remote employees with security closer to what they’d expect from an office setting. Contact us today to learn more.
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