Remote working was witnessing a gradual growth before the coronavirus struck. The pandemic made its rise exponential and eventually turned it into a standard across many sectors and industries. In March alone, 16 million US workers moved to the remote work environment. The number has only increased since then. 

The expanding remote work environment has also provided more room for cybercriminals for exploiting this unprecedented situation. A tightly-knit office environment is far more secure than an open remote workspace employees use from different locations and ISPs. 

Remote Desktop Protocols (RDPs) lie at the center of the work-from-home office setup. Statistics suggest a 40% increase in the unsecured RDPs. A poorly secure remote work environment is a recipe for cyber disasters. Such networks are more vulnerable to data thefts and consequent non-compliance penalties. If your organization has moved to a remote work environment, you have to be on top of things to protect data and maintain regulatory compliance. 

This post will discuss measures that can help you secure your data and maintain compliance while sporting a remote workspace.

Devising a Robust IT Security Policy and Implement It in Remote work environment

If you are working remotely for an extended duration, you need to revise your IT security policy and implement it. You may already have one in place. However, you need to upgrade it in line with remote work cyber security requirements. Moreover, you need to take all the employees on board with the revised policy. 

The policy should outline how every employee must handle the data when working from a remote office or home office. Implementing IT security policy should dispel the notion that only higher management handling sensitive data should follow the security protocols. With a new IT security policy, make it a point that every employee considers data protection as their personal responsibility. 

In conventional in-office work environments, many employees are not aware of what regulatory compliances their employers are bound to. Ensure employees know the compliance measures and industry security standards your business has to comply with (HIPAA, GDPR, PCI-DSS, etc.). They should also be aware of the fallout of non-compliance (penalization, de-indexing, downgrading, etc.).

Making a robust IT security policy and its implementation while educating/training your employees will make the foundation of your data protection and compliance maintenance efforts.

Secure Remote Internet Traffic through a VPN

When workers work from one location through the same network, it is easy to manage the network and data security. The remote working setup finishes that secure consolidated environment. Employees start working from their personal devices and access organizational networks while using unsecured ISPs and public internet connections. 

Cybercriminals can exploit those unsecured network connections to infiltrate into your organization’s digital environment and steal the data. Since it is unfeasible to establish a secure network and internet connection for every remote worker, the easier way to protect your network and data is the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). VPNs will redirect and encrypt the information your remote workers send across the internet. Using a VPN will help protect your company data from cyber eavesdroppers and interceptors. 

Bank on Multi-Factor Authentication in Remote Work Environment

Multi-factor authentication is also a crucial step in achieving optimum data protection and compliance maintenance. Suppose your remote workers access company databases through an online portal using login credentials. In that case, you need to make sure they can only get access to the network through two-factor authentication. Therefore, they need to verify their identity through a passcode sent to their email/phone number besides entering their password. 

Protecting a network that many remote users access just by password is not meant for a robust cybersecurity regimen. For instance, a remote worker’s computer infected by a keylogging malware can get hold of the user password and log in to a database. Similarly, brute-force attempts can also allow cybercriminals to break into a network through a remote employee’s account.

Encryption across Your Network

Besides ensuring encrypted internet traffic through VPNs, you also need to ensure that the data present on employees’ devices is protected from theft. It can be made possible by making encryption software available for remote employees. The organization has to instruct remote employees what datasets should be stored with encryption. This practice will enable the organization to protect its data in case of a device loss or a lethal malware or ransomware attack. 

Moreover, organizations also need to streamline their communications channels in a remote work environment in terms of encryption. They should use email, messaging, and video conferencing services that offer end-to-end encryption. Across-the-board encryption practices will help an organization protect its data and working environment while complying with regulatory directives. 

Set up a Cloud Account for Dynamic Backup

Even the most fortified networks fall victim to cyber attacks. Therefore, a pragmatic outlook demands an organization to also prepare its workforce for working through and surviving successful malware infiltration. One of the most effective ways to ensure you don’t lose your precious data is to set up dynamic data backups. Cloud platforms will come in very useful in this regard. 

Obligate your employees to always make a backup of the work they do on the cloud (subject to data-at-rest regulations your organization is bound to). They can do that by syncing their working applications with the cloud. If your workforce successfully adapts to this practice, your organization will be able to assuage the brunt of a data breach by getting back on its feet in no time. 

Finally, make sure all your remote workers use devices with updated firewalls and antivirus software. It’s best to provide them with licensed robust malware protection programs, so they don’t have to rely on freeware. You can also use mobile device management software to manage and supervise the cyber security of workers using mobile devices. 

Taking care of all these measures in conjunction can enable your organizations to establish a foolproof remote workspace with optimum data protection and complete compliance fulfillment. If you want to streamline data protection and compliance fulfillment of your SME’s remote work environment, contact Microsys. Our experts also provide holistic IT infrastructure and support in Toronto to organizations of all sizes and scopes.

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