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Solutions | 4 min read

Remote Work Security Best Practices

Will Lidwin
Written by Will Lidwin

Even before the pandemic upended our world and the way we go about our business, remote and hybrid work were gaining traction. Now, it’s essentially the new normal for many jobs where working outside the confines of brick and mortar buildings is possible.

This brings a new level of security and IT compliance concerns, since remote workers are accessing their home WiFi networks that likely aren’t as secure as those managed by the company. Depending on the job, they may even be using their personal devices to access company assets. Precautions must be taken to prevent computer hacks and security breaches, so we want to go over the most important network security best practices for remote and hybrid workers.

Conduct Awareness Training

It never hurts to give everyone a refresher on security tips for working remotely, and to teach them some new things about cybersecurity. Cybercriminals are always evolving along with the technology. What was taught a year or two ago may not be relevant or could need updating with new information. Plus, with so many people working from home now, cybercriminals may adjust their tactics in an attempt to thwart IT security risk management efforts.

Be sure that all employees understand the risks of phishing emails, ransomware, social engineering and other possible means criminals can use to force their way into company data. Phishing has become a preferred tactic for many cybercriminals, with attacks increasing by 58.2% globally in 2023 alone. To underscore the sophistication, nearly 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent worldwide every day. On-site and remote workers could easily fall victim if they lack awareness about the threat.

Implement Strong Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication

Long passwords with a combination of letters, numbers and special characters intended to foil deciphering should be mandatory for all employees. It’s recommended to change passwords when there is reason to suspect a compromise, and routinely on an annual basis for more airtight security. 

For a stronger authorization process, implement two-factor authentication for all users. This often entails an authorized user putting in a code they’ve been sent on their personal mobile device, which no unauthorized person should have access to.

Use Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a great cybersecurity tool that lets authorized users securely connect to an organization’s networks and access their assets remotely through any internet connection from almost any device and location. The secure aspect of VDI protects company information from the get-go, mitigating cybersecurity risk and ensuring no unauthorized access is obtained. Implementing and enforcing VDI security best practices adds another layer of remote work security.

There are many VDI providers out there, but we recommend Microsoft Azure.

Similarly, keeping cyber crooks from trying to sneak by impersonating employees also keeps them from accessing information or networks. User identity verification for help desks is instrumental in determining valid users, a particularly important metric with remote employees. A variety of online user identification tools empowers IT professionals to protect your company from data breaches.

Work on Private Networks

Even on a company-owned device loaded with antivirus software and other protections, it’s never a good idea to log onto a wide-open public network. You don’t want remote workers headed to the corner cafe for a cup of coffee and a quick work session on that coffee shop’s network, not-so-cleverly called “Coffee Shop WiFi,” with its equally unclever password, “Guest.” These kinds of unsecure or minimally secure networks are easy for criminals to enter.

Remote and hybrid employees should work on a home network protected by a strong, tough-to-break password that won’t easily let in cybercriminals.

Use the Cloud

The development of services like Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace has allowed businesses to conduct their work fully online while taking advantage of the excellent security measures put in place by these industry titans. 

The cloud is also quite convenient. With everything located online, materials can be accessed from any device with the correct authorization and credentials.

Further Reading: The 5 Best Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Tools

Only Use Work Devices for Work

Among the most important remote work security tips is encouraging employees to keep work exclusively on company-issued devices and everything else on their own devices. Personal web browsing could lead to insecure connections on some sites or fake merchant pages that are all vulnerable to attacks or malware, putting the company’s assets at risk.

It’s a best practice to ensure employees use company-owned equipment for work, rather than using their personal (and potentially insecure) devices or using work devices for their own leisure.

Keep Software & Hardware Updated

Bugs and vulnerabilities are routinely found in just about every operating system or antivirus software, so frequent updating is key. Roll out updates remotely to all company-owned devices as often as necessary — or even more than necessary — to stay ahead of the crooks.

Be Mindful of Private Info on Video Calls

Zoom, Teams, Skype and any other video conferencing software are ubiquitous in everyday business operations. It’s critical that employees make sure no sensitive personal or company information inadvertently appears on camera with them. Likewise, screen-sharing must be done with care. A best practice is to review and prepare desktops before meetings to confirm they don’t contain sensitive information that isn’t meant to be widely shared.

Malicious criminals can take control of webcams in an attempt to sneakily gain access to private or sensitive materials. To minimize the threat, block out webcams when not in use. Attachable camera sliders for laptops are effective. Or, go old-school with a bit of electrical tape. Disabling web cams when not needed is a surefire way to foil cybercrooks.

How’s Your Cybersecurity Preparedness?

On average, one cyber attack occurs every 39 seconds — roughly 2,200 cyberattacks each day. Remote work security best practices can keep your business from being vulnerable, provided they are followed by employees and consistently managed by IT professionals.

A help desk is often a technology lifeline for employees — and a frontline defense against cyber crime. But, what elements go into creating a help desk that serves both purposes? 

Find the answers in our quick-reference checklist, Creating a Help Desk: 10 Best Practices. Get detailed information on 10 top priority considerations, and actionable insights for implementation. Click the button below to download your copy.

Checklist for Support Desk Needs

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