The COVID-19 pandemic has forever transformed the work landscape, popularizing remote and hybrid work models. As organizations adjust to this new reality, issues like building a solid company culture in a remote work landscape and cybersecurity have emerged as significant security concerns.
That said, while telecommuting offers flexibility and operational efficiencies, it also presents unique challenges. These range from maintaining data compliance and device management to ensuring vigorous overall cybersecurity. This article discusses these challenges and outlines best practices for securing hybrid workforces.
Tackling Data Compliance: The Lowdown on Personal Identifiable Information (PII)
Employees in a distributed work setup have an increased risk of data breaches, unauthorized access, and non-adherence to data protection laws like GDPR, CCPA or the FTC Safeguards Rule. To ensure proper data compliance and protect PII data, here are some best practices that you can adopt:
Apply End-to-End Encryption
This is your first line of defense. To ensure that data transmitted over the network is encrypted, you can implement end-to-end encryption protocols such as TLS (Transport Layer Security) for web traffic or get a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to create a secure communication channel for all data transfers. You can also enforce encrypted protocols like Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) instead of less secure methods like File Transfer Protocol (FTP).
Tap Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a crucial defense against unauthorized access in remote work setups. By combining multiple verification methods, like passwords and biometrics, MFA adds layers of security. Even if one factor is compromised, access remains protected. Implementing MFA across sensitive systems and data significantly reduces the risk of breaches and enhances overall cybersecurity in the remote work environment.
Engage in Regular Audits
Regular audits are integral to upholding data integrity and compliance in a distributed work setting. These systematic reviews of user access, data sharing practices, and security protocols help identify vulnerabilities and discrepancies that may emerge over time. Beyond technical evaluations, audits ensure employees adhere to security procedures and that access permissions align with changing roles. By spotlighting the organization’s dedication to cybersecurity, audits not only thwart potential breaches but also provide insights for ongoing enhancement, adapting security measures as remote work dynamics evolve.
Leverage Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Software
Implement tools to detect potential data breach threats and unauthorized data transfers. DLP can enable you to scan outgoing emails for sensitive information (e.g., credit card details or Social Security numbers) and either block or encrypt the email before it’s sent. In addition, it can provide endpoint protection for monitoring and controlling data transfer from employee mobile devices to external drives or cloud storage.
Conduct Employee Training
Empower your workforce to responsibly manage PII through targeted training led by certified cybersecurity professionals or reputable training organizations. In a landscape of remote workers, cybersecurity awareness is paramount. Utilize established programs like those offered by the International Association for Privacy Professionals (IAPP) to instill a solid understanding of identifying phishing attempts, secure password practices, social engineering tactics, and compliance with data privacy regulations. Regular updates and engaging content ensure employees are well-equipped to counter evolving cyber threats, bolstering the organization’s overall security readiness.
BYOD: A Blessing or a Curse?
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a widely implemented policy, but it’s a double-edged sword when it comes to security and not having all your technology in a single, traditional office. While they reduce organizational costs and increase employee productivity and satisfaction, they introduce additional security risks. Thus, it’s critical to ensure that you maintain robust BYOD protocols for any employee-owned devices. Here are some top-notch tips to navigate this tricky landscape.
Make sure that only authorized devices can connect to your network. Require that all equipment that will access the network be registered in advance. Yet another technique is network segmentation, which entails placing authenticated devices on a secure subnet or block isolated from other less protected areas.
Remote Wipe Capabilities
In the event of loss of personal devices or employee departure, ensure you can remotely erase all organizational data from the hardware through the cloud, Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions or built-in device management features like Apple’s “Find My” for iOS or Google’s “Find My Device” for Android. These services allow administrators to send a remote command to wipe the device clean of all data should devices become compromised.
Mandating regular software updates for devices in a remote or hybrid work environment is essential to bolster cybersecurity. These updates serve as a defense against evolving cyber threats, patching vulnerabilities that hackers exploit for unauthorized access of personal devices. Outdated software can house known weaknesses, making timely updates crucial for maintaining network integrity. Beyond security, regular updates enhance device performance and reliability.
Establishing a streamlined process to notify and guide remote employees through updates ensures network and data integrity, while also showcasing the organization’s commitment to an optimized and secure digital workspace.
Firewalls and Antivirus
Enforcing robust security measures like firewalls and antivirus software on all BYODs is crucial for safeguarding your organization’s digital landscape. Firewalls serve as a first line of defense, monitoring network traffic and thwarting unauthorized access, while antivirus software scans files for malware, spyware, and malicious code. Regular updates to both these defenses are vital to counter evolving threats and patch vulnerabilities. Integrating these measures into your BYOD policy creates a secure digital environment, allowing employees to benefit from BYOD policies while minimizing the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access, enhancing overall cybersecurity for personal devices.
Effective communication of the organization’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy is integral to a strong cybersecurity approach. Clear policy awareness ensures that employees comprehend their obligations, rights, and the potential risks associated with using personal devices for work tasks. During onboarding, new hires should be introduced to the policy, covering device usage guidelines, security protocols, and expectations for safeguarding corporate data in the event of an internal breach.
Regular updates and training sessions further bolster policy adherence, reinforcing evolving cybersecurity threats, new best practices, and any revisions to the security policies. Cultivating an environment of continuous learning empowers employees to proactively identify and tackle potential security issues, fostering a secure remote work setting that values both personal privacy and company data protection.
If you’d like to learn more about how to build your very own BYOD Policy, check out this video for 6 easy steps!
Enlisting the Pros: Managed IT Service Providers
A Managed Services Provider (MSP) is a third-party organization specialized in handling and assuming responsibility for a defined set of IT services to their clients, including cybersecurity for remote teams. Check out these advantages when you partner with them:
MSPs bring a wealth of specialized cybersecurity expertise that significantly bolsters an organization’s defense against evolving threats. With dedicated teams of cybersecurity professionals, MSPs conduct thorough vulnerability assessments and real-time network traffic monitoring, swiftly detecting anomalies that might indicate cyber threats. Their diverse skill set covers intrusion detection, incident response, and aligning cybersecurity practices with regulatory requirements. So keep this in mind when choosing or switching providers.
This expertise not only enhances security but also offers proactive measures and risk mitigation strategies, empowering organizations to navigate the complex cybersecurity landscape with confidence, knowing their systems are safeguarded by professionals committed to outsmarting cyber threats.
24/7 Remote Monitoring
One of the key advantages offered by Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP) is their round-the-clock remote monitoring of an organization’s network and systems. Through advanced tools and real-time analysis, MSSPs can swiftly detect and address potential security threats and vulnerabilities. This constant vigilance allows them to identify suspicious activities, unauthorized access attempts, and anomalies in network traffic, enabling timely mitigation before these issues escalate.
By leveraging MSSPs’ 24/7 monitoring, businesses can ensure proactive risk management, minimize the impact of cyber threats, and maintain uninterrupted operations for their remote workers with expert assistance available at all times.
Partnering with an MSP offers a compelling cost-effectiveness advantage for organizations transitioning to remote and hybrid work models. Maintaining an in-house cybersecurity team entails significant financial investments in salaries, training, and tools. Outsourcing cybersecurity needs to MSPs brings specialized expertise without the ongoing costs of internal teams. MSPs provide 24/7 monitoring, threat detection, and rapid response, bolstering security while minimizing expenses.
With MSPs staying updated on evolving cybersecurity practices, organizations can efficiently optimize their security strategy and resource allocation. This makes an MSP a prudent choice for securing remote and hybrid work environments while managing cost savings effectively, especially if they are partnered in a business consulting consortium.
MSPs offer seasoned expertise in deciphering intricate standards such as GDPR, CCPA, and HIPAA, ensuring your organization’s strict adherence. With dedicated experts staying current on regulatory changes, MSPs help establish and maintain policies, data encryption, and access controls aligned with legal requirements.
This proactive approach extends to adapting your cybersecurity strategy as regulations evolve, allowing your organization to focus on core operations while confidently upholding data security laws. Essentially, MSPs act as vigilant managed compliance partners, providing guidance, assessments, and strategic planning to mitigate legal and financial risks, empowering your remote and hybrid workforce to operate securely and compliantly.
In the unfortunate event of data loss due to cyberattacks, hardware failures, or unforeseen disasters, MSPs are equipped to swiftly restore your valuable information from their secure backup repositories. This minimizes downtime, mitigates potential revenue loss, and helps your organization maintain uninterrupted operations. By entrusting your data backup needs to MSPs, you’re ensuring that even in the face of adversity, your business remains resilient and prepared to swiftly recover, further solidifying your cybersecurity strategy.
Take Charge of your Business’ Cybersecurity Today!
Maintaining robust cybersecurity practices is crucial as organizations increasingly adopt remote and hybrid work models. Data compliance, BYOD policies, and leveraging the expertise of Managed IT Service Providers are pivotal elements in this quest. By implementing best practices in these significant areas, organizations can achieve operational efficiency and fortify their security for long-term resilience.
If you’re seeking a trusted partner to manage your remote workforce and ensure top-notch data security and employee productivity, don’t hesitate to contact Nerds Support today. With our specialized expertise, 24/7 monitoring, and comprehensive services, we can help your organization thrive in the new era of remote workers!