Securing Your Remote Workforce With A 4-Tiered Approach

Nick Olsen

COVID-19 has changed the way we work. The traditional 9-5 office life has transitioned into a hybrid remote working/in office environment.

Will it go back to the way we previously worked? I doubt it; this transition was already occurring as remote working technology is evolving, more and more businesses are utilising cloud technology and internet speeds are increasing. COVID-19 just fast-tracked it. 

So, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the exponential rise in employees working from home, there is an increasing need for business owners and technical managers to understand and manage the risks inherent via remote employees.

In our previous post, “5 Security Measures to Minimise Risk for Remote Workers” we provided some quick tips on how to manage some of the cybersecurity issues seen with remote working.

I have decided to take it one step further and provide a four-tiered approach to protecting your business from your remote workforce.

Revisiting cyber security risks

Although enabling employees to work remotely is fantastic for morale and productivity, it causes many headaches for IT managers if they are ill-equipped. 

Not only do you still have all the ‘standard’ security risks inherent in any type of online/computer work – risks such as phishing emails, ransomware, malware, scam sites, etc., but there are also new threats. 

These new threats essentially occur from potentially unsecured devices (employee’s personal laptops and mobile devices) accessing sensitive data over unsecured internet connections which can open your internal network up to outside access.

Defending these new devices is not an easy task. According to Cisco’s latest security report, 52% of responding businesses found securing mobile devices to be extremely challenging.

So, given how many employees are currently working from home, and that most are regularly using mobile devices, it is more important now than ever before to properly defend them against cyber security threats.

How do I manage the risks?

Unfortunately, there is no one single solution. Instead, managing these risks associated with employees login in remotely is a multi-layered approach.

So, with that said, here are some more tips on how to secure your business in this new age of remote working.

4  tiered approach to managing Remote Working Cyber Security Risks

1 - Educate Your staff 

First and foremost, staff knowledge is paramount in efforts to reduce risk of compromised data and to secure your business. If your staff are unaware of the risks and how to identify them, then your efforts to mitigate these risks will be fruitless. While there are many conflicting reports, as high as 95% of cyber security breaches are due to human error. Let that sink in for a moment!

Therefore, educating your staff on cybersecurity risks has always been and always will be the best way to manage security risks, especially now with remote working and even less contact between employees. After all, your advanced security software and policies are only as good as the employees who use the devices, and no one is perfect, we all make mistakes.

To see why educating your staff is so important and our recommendations on what to do, see this article on educating your staff about cybersecurity risks.

2 – Protect

Protecting your accounts through Multi-Factor Authentication, commonly implemented as 2-Factor Authentication, is a fantastic step to ensure that you have a secondary defence layer against compromised accounts.

Essentially, enforcing multi-factor authentication (2FA/MFA) ensures that even if a breach occurs and the username and password are compromised, they will be almost unable to log in as a secondary code is required. This code is often sent to SMS, email, or using an app on the users' phone, such as Authy, Google Authenticator, or Cisco Duo.

2FA/MFA adds a second layer of authentication to log in through the need for the registered phone/email and greatly improves the security of your network.

To learn more about how 2FA/MFA can be used in addition to strong passwords (which are still needed), see this article.


3 - Secure

Securing your network is fundamental to securing your business.

Alongside email, managing the security of your network is one of the most important measures you can take to secure your business. Essentially, if a hacker gains control of your network, they have control of everything and it only takes 1 compromised device or login credentials to gain access.

Securing your network is now more important than ever before with remote working and more employees using VPNs and accessing your secure internal network over the internet.

Using an advanced threat and intrusion detection system that covers all remote users as well as your central network is a great start. A solution like this covers all devices, not just your core network and will provide greater protection than separate solutions or no solution for your remote workers.

Many of these advanced solutions, such as Cisco Umbrella, have moved to a cloud-based service, ensuring that they always remain up to date and can protect your employees, no matter where they are.

4 - Prevent

Prevention is always better than a cure, right?  So, the above steps are all aspects of preventing, but we can take it one step further with advanced network tools like Cisco Umbrella or Sonicwall Secure Remote Access.

Utilising these solutions prevents intrusions and attacks from Malware and Ransomware, which are some of the most significant threats to businesses at the moment. These attacks are getting more sophisticated and unfortunately, are still costing businesses across the globe millions in damages.

For more information, please join us on the 13th of August for a live webinar and discussion.

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