With advances in technology, it is no longer necessary for workers to be physically present in an office to get their jobs done. In fact, many employees are able to work completely remotely. Keeping data secure is a top concern for many businesses, and contending with remote workers can be particularly challenging. Here are a few helpful tips for keeping their computers secure.
Creating Secure Networks
Creating a secure connection to your company’s network can maximize data protection efforts for remote workers. There are a few different ways to accomplish this. Virtual private networks, or VPN, provide tools that ensure remote computers receive security updates, are monitored for infection and are configured properly, as well as encrypt web traffic. There are also myriad software products that allow you to establish secure networks.
Consider the Cloud
Using cloud computing services can offer a level of protection that is typically out of reach for many businesses due to lack of funds and technological savvy. Not only does cloud technology allow workers to access company information anywhere, it provides a highly secure environment for doing so. While your business is still responsible for taking certain steps to keep information secure (such as creating strong passwords), the onus largely falls on the provider.
The more people who have access to a particular set of data, the more vulnerable it becomes. Before turning over the whole enchilada of your network to remote workers, consider the roles of each person and what information is necessary and unnecessary for them to do their jobs properly. Information should only be dispersed on a need-to-know basis.
Protection Measures for Remote Devices
One of the biggest challenges of employing workers remotely is the increasing tendency to operate on a BYOD (bring your own device) basis. Unlike a traditional office setting, where everyone is working off of company-issued computers and other devices, remote workers often access company data on personal ones. This opens up a whole can of security worms, but there are ways to minimize risks. Setting strict guidelines regarding acceptable use for the device is helpful, but in practice, hard to realistically enforce. But, there are steps you can take. Always provide the most up-to-date programs, and do not leave updates to your employees—be sure to activate automatic updates. Lost devices are also problematic but you can keep data safe by enabling remote-wipe applications and installing encryption software.
Poor choice of passwords makes data vulnerable to hackers. Create a stringent password policy for your remote workers; many IT experts recommend a password of at least 12 characters. If you want more careful monitoring of passwords, there are programs available that allow for central management of passcodes. You might also consider changing up passwords every few months as an extra layer of protection against hackers.
Having remote workers offers many advantages, from cutting operating costs to being able to recruit top talent regardless of geographic location. But, from a security-standpoint, it increases the risks of your data being compromised. While there is no way to 100 percent guarantee information will never be stolen, regardless of where employees are located, you can take powerful steps to reduce the likelihood.