Remote work is becoming more and more popular, and no one seems to have a problem with this trend. After all, it is often a lot more convenient to work from home, and it also tends to be less stressful. At the same time, remote work can present some unique security challenges, and your business may not be prepared for them. That’s why you need a comprehensive remote security plan to deal with these issues before they become issues. People often say that “prevention is the best medicine,” and we agree wholeheartedly. With that in mind, let’s discuss the essential aspects of a remote business security plan.
Network Encryption Is A Must
If you don’t know what encryption is, you really need to do some further research. Encryption is one of the most effective security measures out there and has proven to be very difficult for intruders to circumvent. While encryption doesn’t make your systems completely impregnable, it definitely brings them a lot closer to that goal. It works by jumbling up all the computer data into a mush of numbers (1’s and 0’s, to be exact). This makes the data unreadable and unusable until a password is entered, allowing the data to be reassembled.
When applied to a network, encryption takes the form of a connection between two computers (the host and the end-user). The encryption is used to form a wall (or “tunnel” around that connection, ensuring that no one can hijack it in transit. A VPN is probably the easiest and simplest thing to use here, but you should also make sure that all your employees use a browser add-on called “HTTPS Everywhere.” That will ensure that they take advantage of the internet’s native encryptions wherever possible.
Keep All Information Segmented
Other than the top-level executives, no one in your company should have unfettered access to the entire network. In fact, you should try not to give your remote workers any more privileges than they need. This is because you cannot monitor remote workers as closely as in-house workers, making it harder to ensure compliance with security policies.
You can deal with this by dividing all your data into levels based on sensitivity. The government does this with security clearances, and you should do it, too. This way, if a hacker does gain access to your network, they will only gain access to one part. This will limit the damage that can be done, and will also give your IT people a chance to catch the intruder in the act.
Develop A Mobile Device Policy
Mobile devices (mostly phones and tablets) can become a giant security liability if they are left unregulated. When hackers try to get into a network, they will always be looking for a weak point. Like the saboteurs they are, they will not attack the strongest point (and if they do, they will probably fail). If mobile devices are not properly secured, that weak point will be very easy to find.
In the end, the safest policy is to restrict all mobile devices from connecting to your network. Let’s face it: Most people are more likely to use their phones for recreation than work. Plus, anything that can be done on a smartphone can be done more easily on a computer (as a general rule). However, remote workers may sometimes find it more convenient to work from a mobile device, so these can be allowed on a case by case basis.
Don’t Forget The Firewall!
Firewalls are an often-neglected aspect of online security, perhaps because a lot of people don’t understand how they work. A firewall simply decides who is allowed to connect to your network and who is not. They do this by using a pre-made list of approved connections and/or disallowed connections.
For a public network, firewalls can be a pain because they make it harder to access many sites. However, for a private business network, they are perfect tools to ensure security. For maximum security, you can set your firewall to block any incoming connections that do not appear on your “safe” list. Thus, only approved users will be able to gain access.
Consider App-Only Access
In some cases, employers choose to limit their remote workers to one or two apps when using the company network. Thus, they will be able to access only the tools that they need and nothing else. With this method, your remote workers will be remotely using a computer that is located at your premises, which would normally be risky. However, this method is considered to be the safest path to remote access.
The only problem with this kind of setup is the fact that it limits your remote workers somewhat. If that person runs into an unexpected problem, they might be out of luck until a more experienced person is free to help them. Thus, you probably need to decide this factor on an individual basis. Those that have proven trustworthy can be given greater access, while newer employees can be restricted until they have proven themselves.
Verify, Verify, And Verify Again!
The biggest danger of remote work does not come from the employees themselves. Rather, it comes from the risk of someone impersonating them. Hackers will routinely use fake or stolen credentials to convince an automated system that they are someone else, and this is one of the biggest underlying trends in the methods they use. That’s why you should always get your remote workers to verify their identity when logging into the network.
Some people might think that a CAPTCHA is enough, but it really isn’t. Those things are only intended to filter out bots and other automated programs, but they won’t do anything to stop a dedicated hacker. Phone verification is good, but you should be aware that hackers normally use a burner phone (if they use one at all). Address verification is much better, as it is much harder to fake, and voice recognition is even better. Each of these authentication processes represents another chance for the hacker to fail or get caught.
Remote security is a challenging thing, but it doesn’t have to be a serious problem. On the plus side, it completely removes the possibility of physical-access hacking (methods in which the hacker is physically present). On the other hand, you always have to worry about the danger of impersonation and identity theft. If you want to know more, you can call PCH Technologies to find out how they can help. While you’re at it, you might as well fill out the contact form below so that we can bring you more helpful content like this.