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What are the Security Concerns of Working Remotely

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Remote working has raised many concerns for businesses of all sizes.

 

By Stevie Nicks, Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine

How do you retain a high standard of workflow? How can you keep your team connected and open to collaboration when they’re separated? Is this the right time to upscale the business and pursue new markets or clients?

Perhaps most pertinent to the immediate future of businesses are concerns surrounding security. But what exactly are these concerns and how can you notice them before the crack gets too big to fill (especially if you’re looking at remote working as a long-term option?)

Equipment and Software Faults

Very few companies were fully prepared to transition to remote working.

 Those with limited access to essential digital tools and lacking in sophisticated HR practices have struggled to find a way to replicate the productivity and positive environment of their office from the comfort of their own homes.

Most importantly, however, many companies lacked the basic equipment to make remote working a possibility.

The absence of laptops, webcams and proper desk chairs has brought many companies to a halt and forced them to improvise for the time being. As some businesses rushed around for a solution there are many who likely did not make the most secure choice when it came to both software and hardware investments.

 Businesses transitioning to hardware more suited to remote working (such as trading in cumbersome PCs for lightweight laptops) were faced with a decision of balancing cost against security. If you’re not in the position to buy entire equipment straight from the manufacturer or a licensed retailer, you risk putting your business and private data on the line buying second hand. Whether it’s a window device or a used Macbook Pro, it’s imperative you buy from a respected retailer and online stores with brand cache, comprehensive contact details, and customer support systems.

 This also raises an important question for remote businesses – if your software systems fail are you in safe position to move to a new one, even temporarily? Any new software may not have the security preferences you require and while there is a general industry standard in place today it raises concerns regarding delays in your operation.

While often a great expense, especially during these financially difficult times, it pays to not skimp on security when upgrading your devices for remote working.

Poor Understanding of Online Security

A 2017 study from the Pew Research Centre showed a shocking lack of knowledge surrounding online security in America – a trend it’s not unreasonable to assume is common throughout the internet-using world.

Cybercrime and how to defend yourself from it is not a mainstream topic. It’s something we’re all aware of and do our best with – but these are often half-measures and we rely on the hope that our employers or insurance will protect us from or cover any damages.

Businesses have to be more thorough in their cybersecurity training efforts.

A team member cannot be accused of putting the business and sensitive data in harm’s way if they don’t understand the basics of protecting themselves online and haven’t been provided the tools to do so.

There are a number of low-cost online security training courses employers can ask their teams to complete to get them up to date with the basics of protecting their devices, help them understand the importance of secure connections and establish a company-wide protocol in the event of a security breach.

Employers should also look to provide staff with essential tools such as VPNs they can log into each day to create a firewall and ensure they’re working on a protected connection without requiring in-depth technical knowledge.

It’s also vital to consider the number of coronavirus and remote working-centric security issues that have popped up over the last few months. From scams concerning vital virus information to fake invites to Zoom meetings, these adaptive cybercrimes have been a thorn in the side of many businesses throughout the pandemic. As businesses progress with remote working they need to make sure their staff are acutely educated to this unique, potentially very harmful trend.

Poor Personal Diligence

Of course, there is only so much a business can do to protect both its physical and digital assets.

Companies can educate their staff, but those individuals need to pay due diligence to how safe their personal remote working environment is. This is one of the most immediate threats facing business security in an age of remote working.

Consider how a significant number of younger workforce lives. They’re in shared houses, often with people they’re not familiar with on a personal level. This does raise the possibility, albeit rare, for workers to compromise important security details through carelessness.

Outside of personal issues with people they live with, workers also face the possibility of theft – a growing concern as thieves realize more and more people are keeping important expensive equipment in their homes on a regular basis.

This is for the most part rectifiable through simple education, personal security and establishing a clear distinction between work and home life. Business equipment cannot be used for personal reasons and employees should be discouraged from having it available when not on work time. Having an acceptable use policy is a brilliant way to outline exactly what is expected from employees.

While there are many people out there discovering the joy of remote working and it is keeping us safe in one sense – in another, it is exposing a generation of workers not well-versed in online safety to the harsh reality of internet security issues.

A combination of sophisticated tools, basic training and keeping work and home lives separate should be enough for most businesses. However, all should consider the elements unique to what they do.

About the Author

Stevie Nicks is Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine – a website that covers the topics you care about. You’ll find articles about lifestyle, travel, fashion, trends and relationships on our site – each of which is written in our unique style. 

Disclaimer 

Views expressed in this article are personal. The facts, opinions, and language in the article do not reflect the views of CISO MAG and CISO MAG does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.