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Cybersecurity is an essential consideration for all businesses. No organization can assume that it is off the radar of criminals who operate in the digital realm. The recent high-profile cyber attack on Australian government and businesses has proven a wake-up call for Australia’s SMEs, encouraging them to address the chinks in their digital armour. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent mass transition to remote work, the relocation of workforces has created new security vulnerabilities. Even if your company has strong security measures and practices in place in the office, if any number of your staff are planning to continue working remotely, you’ll need to rethink your cybersecurity plan to protect your systems.

Although technology makes up part of the solution, you’ll also need to take a look at the training and policies you have in place for employees and their use of equipment, as these can greatly add or detract from your cybersecurity as well.

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Here are some areas you’ll need to address to provide comprehensive cybersecurity for every remote employee:

Network Security

The first, most basic step needed for your network security is for each employee to install firewalls to prevent unauthorised access to their networks. Every employee should also be using a VPN to ensure a private connection.

Concerningly, one in three employees does not use a VPN to connect to their company network from home. This can leave your network and communications vulnerable, especially if an employee is using a public network. Always using a VPN should be a hard-and-fast rule.

Another step toward ensuring remote network security is managing user access. Limiting the number of people with access to files and systems that aren’t necessary for every member of your organisation will limit the chances of those assets being breached.

And finally, updates and patches should be installed promptly, especially if you use a BYOD policy.

Email Security 

Even when the protection software you have in place is reliable, cyber attacks can still get around your precautions as a result of human error. That’s why email security is an integral part of any cybersecurity infrastructure. 

Email filtering is one tool that can help deter potentially harmful emails before you even see them. However, some malicious emails may still make it to your inbox. That’s why every member of your team should be trained in how to identify and deal with phishing emails.

Some common signs of a phishing attempt include the following:

  • A misspelled or unprofessional domain name
  • An unsolicited attachment
  • Strange syntax or grammar mistakes
  • Threats of financial or legal consequences for inaction
  • Requests for sensitive information

To avoid falling prey to a phishing scam, employees should be trained to follow secure practices, including:

  • Never log into a site directly from an email link, as it may lead to a fake landing page and be used to harvest login credentials. Scammers will often pose as a trusted business, so be wary even if the email appears to come from an organisation you know. Instead, go directly to the organisation’s website to log in.
  • Do not click on suspicious links. Hover your cursor over a link to see the full address before clicking to make sure it leads to where it should.
  • Don’t download unsolicited attachments. Any attachment that you did not request or don’t know what it contains is suspicious.

Educate your employees on these practices and make sure they know who to notify if they do receive a phishing email.

Password Security

Train your team to use complex passwords which do not include simple dictionary words and do use more than eight characters and a combination of numbers, symbols and uppercase and lowercase letters.

It’s a good idea to use a secure password generator and manager to create unique passwords and keep you from forgetting them (or from resorting to writing them down, which is a cybersecurity faux pas).

Finally, perhaps the most important step you can take to secure your logins and systems is to use multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. MFA can block 99.9% of account attacks, even when your login credentials are compromised. With that in mind, it’s a no-brainer to implement this accessible and functional solution.

Device Policies

Your device policies will also have implications for your cybersecurity. When employees take devices home, this can introduce greater risks of hardware being physically damaged or stolen, as well as higher chances that they will be misused or become vulnerable to outside attacks. Because of this, you should have concrete policies in place dictating when, where, and how employees are allowed to use work devices.

Additionally, if you use a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, you’ll need to ensure that computers are set up with the proper firewalls and protections before being used to connect to company systems and resources.

Backups

Finally, make sure every member of your team backs up their data regularly. Having cloud solutions available where remote employees can easily save and access files is essential to your business’s efficiency and protection.

Backing up essential data to the cloud prevents it from getting lost or stolen should a device become compromised. Providing easy access to backup solutions is especially important when employees are working remotely without access to in-house servers that can store an extra copy of information.

While your employees bear individual responsibility for the security of their devices and data, it’s up to company leadership to provide the policies, systems, equipment and training that enable your employees to work remotely in a secure and productive way. 

Following these practices will help you gain full confidence in the cybersecurity of your remote team and your company as a whole. And using the cybersecurity services of a Managed Security Service Provider can help you put these measures in place in an efficient and frictionless way.

To create full confidence in the cybersecurity of your remote team, talk with First Focus to get the right systems, training and policies in place. 

 

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