Remote working and cybersecurity risks, unfortunately, go hand in hand. As the pandemic and other varying disasters appears to be far from over, cyber threats to individuals and businesses continue to loom large. The only solution at the moment is to invest in robust technology solutions that protect your network and to train employees in cybersecurity so that they develop healthy remote working practices.

If you allow a bulk of your employees to work remotely, it is important to adopt a few basic habits to protect your devices and your business network from cyber criminals.

Here’s a quick look at a few basic tips for remote workers that can go a long way in enhancing the overall security posture of your organisation.

1. Choose Strong Passwords

Passwords provide the first line of defense against unauthorized access to your devices and personal information. By creating a strong, unique password, you increase protection levels tremendously. You make it more challenging for cybercriminals to gain access and disrupt your systems networks.

Here are a few things to consider when creating a new password:

  •     You should avoid using common words and character combinations in your password.  Be aware that phrases like “mypassword”, simple digit combinations like “1234”, predictable character sequences like “qwerty” – are terrible password choices.
  •     Opt for longer passwords – make sure to use at least eight characters. If your password includes three random words, a few digits, and a few symbols – that’s a perfect combination.
  •     Don’t use the same password across different accounts and platforms. If you find it challenging to remember lots of different passwords, use a password manager. This is one of the most basic security measures you can put in place yourself to protect your personal and business data from cyber attacks.

2. Install Updates

Rule number two is never to ignore those little pop-up windows that tell you that software updates are available for your device. Once you get such a notification, be sure to install the latest software as soon as possible. Timely software updates (including antivirus updates) help patch security flaws and safeguard the computer system.

Are you busy with your work and don’t like to be distracted by such notifications? We highly suggest you encourage your employees to select auto-update for software on both mobile devices and computers. It will help you and your staff to prevent problems caused by delayed system updates.

3. Write a remote work policy for your team

If you are a remote team leader or business owner, it is imperative that you create a strong remote working policy to help your team with risk management. You could also consider providing them training in cyber incident response to deal with any cyber incidents that may occur.

You need to cover the following topics:

– Compliance requirements
– Information systems security
– Data protection
– Remote access control
– Backup and media storage
– Information disposal
– Alternative work sites

4. Learn to detect phishing scams

What is a phishing email exactly? It’s the kind of email that includes an attachment or embedded link that the scammer wants the user to click on. That click could unleash malware onto the user’s device and cause system disruption.

As a remote worker, you should be careful about clicking on attachments or links in any email that looks suspicious to you. Here is how you can detect phishing email:

  • Don’t trust emails sent from a public email domain like @gmail.com and @yahoo.com. Remember that every legitimate organization has its own email domain and company accounts. For example, legitimate emails from LinkedIn include “@linkedin.com”.
  •     Check whether the domain name is spelled correctly.
  •     Spot grammatical and spelling errors in the text. As a rule, phishing emails are poorly written.
  •     Don’t open attached files you didn’t expect to receive. For instance, if you have received an email with an attached PDF file that claims to be an invoice from a person you are not familiar with, don’t click on it.
  •     Don’t trust messages that create a sense of urgency. Scammers tend to use this psychological trick to make people click malicious links.
  •     Use secure email providers for data and communication protection.

5. Turn on VPN

Do your employees access your network through a virtual private network (VPN)? If so, you should instruct them never to turn off the VPN as an essential part of network security. A VPN is designed to secure information transmitted between employers and remote employees through data encryption.

While you keep the VPN turned on, you secure your network from hackers and cyber spies who can intercept sensitive data, such as financial documents and customer data. Whether your remote workers work from home or a local coffee shop, staying signed into the organisational VPN is imperative to secure all important information.