Keeping your company secure is always a top priority, but that becomes even more essential when employees work remotely. Whether it’s an employee who needs to work from home one day a week or someone who works remotely on an ongoing basis, keeping your company safe becomes far more challenging when you don’t have constant eyes on them.
With so much access to potential dangers and threats, the risk of attack and intrusion goes up substantially when employees work remotely. Unrestricted access to sensitive data, rogue connections, and unmonitored laptops are just a few ways cybercriminals can take advantage of remote working situations and put your company at risk.
To help keep your company safe when employees work remotely, here are 8 security tips every employee working remotely needs to know.
8 Security Tips Every Employee Working Remotely Needs to Know
1. Change Your Passwords Regularly
No matter where you log in, if you’re using the same password, you’re putting your company at risk. And that risk increases significantly when you’re working remotely because it’s much easier for hackers to gain access to your password.
Most employees’ passwords are either ridiculously easy to figure out or ridiculously easy to hack. In either case, it’s an invitation for cybercriminals to break into your computer and wreak havoc on your work.
Antoine Boquen, CEO and co-founder of recruitment company Horizons says “In a remote situation, there’s no way to know how long your password has been in use. So if you’ve been using it since you started working for the company, it’s way past time to change it. If you’ve been logging into your work computer remotely, you should also change your password regularly.”
Bruno Marotta, who runs the team behind the jigsaw puzzle site I’m a Puzzle, explains, “We require our team to change their password every quarter. We found that merely encouraging password resets doesn’t make a difference. Now we trigger a password reset for email and other productivity apps”
2. Use A Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A virtual private network (VPN) is an essential tool for anyone who works remotely. It acts like a secure tunnel between your computer and your company network, so you can access your data safely and securely. A VPN provides an extra layer of security to data being transmitted between your computer and the rest of your company’s network. It acts as a protective shield that wards off malicious intruders who might be trying to access your data.
VPNs are also useful when you’re traveling and need to access data from home. It’s much safer than using a public network since it encrypts your data, which means it can’t be hacked. A VPN is a critical tool for remote workers who need to access sensitive or confidential data.
3. Only Use Company-Issued Devices
You’ve heard the saying, “If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.” It applies 100% to employees who work remotely.
Daniel Foley, SEO Expert of Sybarite Jewellery says “When you’re working in an office setting, you can easily spot a computer that’s not yours and avoid touching it at all costs. When you’re working remotely, you have no way of knowing whose computer you’re logging in to. You have no way of knowing if it’s been tampered with or if someone is watching what you’re doing.”
Only use company-issued devices when you log in remotely. You can be sure that the device has been secured with all the necessary protections. Plus, it ensures that you’re using the correct settings on your device and accessing the network with your correct username.
4. Don’t Use Free Wi-Fi
When you’re out and need to log in to work, it’s tempting to grab the first coffee shop internet connection you find. Who has time to hunt down a secure connection when you’re short on time?
Don’t use free Wi-Fi to log in to work remotely. You have no idea who else is accessing that network — and what they’re doing while they’re on it. There are plenty of paid Wi-Fi options out there. They’ll cost a few dollars a day, but it’s worth it to protect your data.
5. Don’t Install Unknown Apps
You know to avoid clicking on suspicious emails and to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date. But what about the applications on your company-issued device?
Lachlan de Crespigny. Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Revelo says “Remote employees need to be even more careful with the apps they install. When you log in to work remotely, you access your company’s network with your device. That means you have access to your company’s network as well.”
When you install an app on your company-issued device, it can potentially put your company’s network at risk. Review an app before you install it to make sure it’s legit. Don’t just click “OK” when you’re asked to install an app. Be sure you know exactly what you’re installing and where it came from.
6. Don’t Log In Using the Remote Desktop
Many productivity apps let you log in to your work computer remotely. So you can finish that report while you’re eating dinner at home instead of staying at the office late. While it seems like a great idea, it’s also risky.
Rather than logging in to your work computer remotely, use your company-issued device. It’s safer and more secure. Plus, if something goes wrong while you’re accessing your computer remotely, you can’t just walk over to your desk and fix it.
Remote Desktop is the same technology that IT professionals use to troubleshoot computer issues for employees remotely. While it’s a handy tool for IT professionals, it’s a dangerous way for employees to access their work computers remotely.
7. Install Anti-Virus Software
You don’t have to be sitting at your desk to be attacked by cybercriminals. They can attempt to access your company’s network from anywhere.
Anti-virus software is a critical tool for keeping your computer secure. When you install anti-virus software, it scans your computer for viruses and harmful software that can steal your data or damage your computer.
But anti-virus software is only effective if you install it and keep it up to date. It’s not something that you can turn on when you need it. It needs to be running on your computer 24/7/365 to protect you and your company.
8. Lock Your Computer When You’re Away
Remote employees need to be extra careful about locking their computers. Logging in remotely often requires that you leave your computer unlocked so you can log in. But when you’re done with work, don’t just log out. Lock your computer so no one can access your computer remotely.
Dean Lee, Head of eCommerce of 88Vape says “You could also consider installing an app on your computer that locks it after a certain amount of time away from your desk. This way, you don’t have to worry about remembering to lock up after you leave work. These apps also allow you to set a timeout for how long your computer will stay unlocked, so you don’t have to worry about someone logging in if you step away from your desk for a few minutes.”
When you work remotely, it’s easy to let your guard down and forget about the importance of security. It’s easy for employees who work remotely to assume that their network is secure when it isn’t. If you work remotely, you need to remember that you’re just as vulnerable to cyber attacks as if you were sitting at your desk. You may also request a video explaining some of the best practices for managing remote employees.
To keep your company and data secure, it’s up to every employee to follow their company’s security protocols. It’s up to every employee to keep their devices secure and protected. Remote or office, everyone needs to be vigilant about security and be willing to report any suspicious activity they see.