How to Get Over the Hidden Risk of Employing Remote Workers

Each year, more and more companies are realizing the benefits of allowing their employees or independent contractors the flexibility of working remotely. One major advantage to the company of granting this perk is limiting the overhead cost by reducing the necessary size of a physical, brick and mortar building to host these employees. Unfortunately, businesses are having to weigh the risk of doing so against the beneficial savings when they realize that allowing employees to work remotely is creating significant security risks to the company. Here are a few ways around those risks.

Train Employees Effectively

The most effective way to secure your company when you have remote employees is to train them on the dangers if they are not vigilant when it comes to security. Here are a few training tips:

  1. Phishing attacks happen all of the time, and although many email platforms have advanced screening for attacks, some fall through the cracks which leave the company and the employee in a very vulnerable position. It’s essential to teach remote employees how to spot potential attacks and what to do when they encounter a suspicious situation. Not only should you train remote employees, send out a phishing test after you have trained them, to see if they pass. If not, they need retraining.
  2. Malware is another threat to remote employees and the company that employs them. Training on types of malware can help prevent a mishap. Ransomware is one of the biggest threats to small- and medium-sized businesses, so pay special attention to the training on ransomware situations.

Have a Solid SOP for Employees to Follow

The company should develop standard operating procedures relating to cybersecurity and require compliance with the SOPs on the part of all remote employees and independent contractors. Here are a few ideas that you may want to include in your standard operating procedure for remote employees:

  1. Enable automatic updates for all software on each device to ensure the newest and most secure version is on the device. Many software updates are to patch security vulnerabilities within the software which might leave the user open to a security breach if left unpatched.
  2. Each device used must be password protected and in line of sight when not securely locked away.
  3. Passwords for the devices and the software platforms should be required to be changed quarterly. Each password should be unique to the platform (i.e. no reusing passwords for different platforms).
  4. Prohibit connecting work devices to public Wi-Fi as doing so can pose a major security threat to the company. Devices connected to public Wi-Fi, are easily seen and accessed by even the most juvenile hackers. To ensure greater safety, require remote employees to have a password-protected hotspot on their own mobile device to which they can then connect their laptops when they are not in the privacy of their own home.

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