The COVID-19 pandemic has effectively upended life as we know it. Social distancing guidelines and shelter-in-place orders have forced many Americans to work from home, and even though states are starting to loosen the belts of shelter-in-place orders, many are asking companies that can work remotely to continue to do so. Several of these companies are even doing so of their own accord as they’ve found remote work to be more productive for their employees and their bottom lines.
Yet in doing so, they have opened up a can of worms when it comes to data vulnerabilities that can be exploited. While data security has always been important, in recent weeks there has been a massive uptick in how much data is being generated and shared, increasing the need for security. The most effective way to ensure that data is being secured in this new remote world is to educate remote workers themselves on how to preserve their own data and secure their own hardware. It’s up to leadership as well as trained security professionals and data analysts to facilitate this education.
In the past few months, there has been a massive shift in how the U.S. workforce operates. Many Americans are now working from home, and while there are pros and cons to working remotely, the simple fact is that the bulk of workers weren’t prepared for the cybersecurity risks that came with remote work.
And because even large organizations like Twitter are telling their employees they can work from home even after the pandemic passes, it’s imperative that your IT professionals share the following security tips with your staff:
- Clean those machines. If your IT specialists haven’t programmed regular firmware updates and anti-virus scans, now is the time to make these updates an everyday practice. Build these updates as well as storage scans into weekly IT practices. For the more technically inclined employees, educate them and allow them a greater modicum of control over the maintenance of their data and their devices. This independence comes in handy when your staff is fully remote.
- Make sure that anti-virus software is robust and as customized to your systems as it can possibly be. This takes the vigilance against viruses out of the hands of remote employees and puts it on the shoulders of the software.
- Has your organization relied on BYOD since before the pandemic? Has that been less than successful? Now’s the time to lock that down. BYOD is one of the least secure practices in IT, but it can be a thriving practice when done correctly: create a robust mobile device action plan and create it now. This is one of the most important cybersecurity tips for any business, small or large. This action plan puts the onus of mobile security on employees who elect to use their mobile devices, from tables to even their own laptops. It should contain features such as requirements for the encryption of devices, signage of an Acceptable Use Policy, and a reporting procedure that accounts for lost or stolen devices as well as for whistleblowers.
Every cybersecurity plan will look different from one organization to another, especially after COVID-19. And if your workforce has never been fully remote until the pandemic, these tips are the building blocks for a much more sophisticated remote-work security plan that will evolve as your organization learns more about how it functions in this new remote world. Use this foundation to get you started, and your remote workers will be successful at secure remote work.