The unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 pandemic prompted many IT scenarios businesses hadn’t planned for. Most of the challenges involved properly equipping a virtual workforce. This included putting in place the right amount of remote work security to protect users and IT systems.
While many employees have returned to offices, many others continue to work virtually. In fact, some businesses have already announced a permanent move to a partial or fully remote workforce.
In other words, to varying degrees depending on the business, remote working is here to stay. And so is the need for heightened remote work security.
The good news is we’ve had time to adjust to the “new normal” over the past several months. As the new year approaches, now is the time to put in place best practices for remote work security for the long-term.
Here are some things we learned in 2020 that businesses should implement – if they haven’t already – for a more successful 2021:
Supply the right tools for remote working
If possible, any business that allows employees to work from home should provide company-issued laptops. If this wasn’t in your budget for 2020, try to make room for it in 2021. These devices should come with the latest software in place for remote work security.
In addition, cloud-based applications will enable remote employees to easily access the software they need to do their jobs. Consider making a permanent switch to cloud-based subscription services for email, word processing, cloud storage and all other applications your employees need so they can work safely from anywhere.
Establish acceptable use policies
A best practice that is often overlooked, companies should have employees sign acceptable use policies (AUPs). These legal documents stipulate rules and restrictions for accessing company IT networks – like the internet and email – and using company-issued equipment. AUPs reduce company liability, decrease employee privacy expectations and protect important company data.
Acceptable use policies are always important. But, they are even more so for businesses that have employees working outside of the office. Remote users are at greater risk of cyberattacks. Requiring a set of acceptable usage guidelines can help protect the user and business from security breaches.
Beef up cybersecurity
One of the most important things businesses with remote employees can do is set up a virtual private network, or VPN. A VPN essentially creates a secure tunnel between the user’s computer and the office servers. It encrypts information and prevents cybercriminals from deciphering it.
Additional smart remote work security measures include:
- Requiring multi-factor authentication for user logins
- Optimizing home router security
- Leveraging advanced threat detection and advanced threat prevention
- Having best-in-class firewall and anti-virus software installed on all devices
Optimize virtual collaboration
Connection and engagement are key for a healthy organizational culture and a happy, productive team. A virtual work environment can prevent or limit the frequency of face-to-face meetings. So, it’s important to offer employees ways to connect and collaborate virtually.
Thankfully, there are no shortage of IT solutions on the market that help organizations do just that. From video-conferencing to document sharing to robust project management software, the hard part may be vetting all your options to find the ones best for your business. Just make sure the tools you use meet appropriate remote work security standards.