By Peter Johns, Empower Information Systems, Inc.
Do you have staff working from home? The answer to that question is most likely a “Yes.” And that makes sense. Why risk the safety of your staff when you can operate equally well or even better with them working from the safety of their homes? But did you know that the WFH (Work From Home) model can put your data at risk?
Here are five things you should invest in to ensure the WFH environment is safe — for both your employees and your data.
1. Anti-malware tools. Any discussion about data security must start with anti-malware applications. These applications keep your computers safe from viruses, adware and other ransomware. Employees working remotely are most likely using their own devices. Anti-malware software programs can be expensive, so your employees may not have them at all or may be using an outdated or free version. So, be sure to provide the latest version of anti-malware software to your staff to install on their devices.
2. Firewalls. Firewalls protect your data by monitoring network traffic and allowing/blocking data exchange based on preset rules. For example, a firewall lets you dictate what websites can or cannot be accessed, or what software programs may be installed, etc. Firewalls also generate alerts for the system administrator if there’s an attempted breach. But there’s a caveat. You can only install a firewall on company property; that is, if you are providing your employees with laptops or desktops to use for work purposes. Therefore, educate and encourage personal firewalls for your employees working from home.
3. Multi-factor authentication. When you go on a vacation, do you just close the screen door behind you and take off? No — you close all the doors and windows, lock them and activate your home security system. Multi-factor authentication is somewhat like that. Instead of using a single password for data access, multi-factor authentication adds more layers to security. If WFH has your employees accessing their work computers remotely, then you simply cannot skip multifactor authentication.
4. The Cloud. Using the Cloud to store your files presents a lot of advantages in the WFH environment. It certainly saves time and effort as files don’t have to be mailed back and forth, eliminates version control challenges and ensures timely access to data. The Cloud lets your employees work safely from anywhere and offers more safety than local data storage mechanisms. Any data in the Cloud is encrypted, plus the chances of data loss are almost zero. Unlike your employees storing work files on their computer, which can be lost or misused if their device malfunctions or is stolen or hacked into, any data put on the Cloud stays there.
5. Training. Did you know that lack of knowledge is one of the major reasons companies and individuals are becoming victims of cybercrime? All it takes is one wrong click to open the floodgates, and the only way to stop that from happening is to train your employees on cybersecurity best practices. Here are a few topics that should be included:
- What does a good password look like?
- Why is password sharing an absolute no-no?
- How to identify phishing attempts
- Why is it important to install software updates and patches on a timely basis?
- The risks associated with public WiFi such as those at coffee shops or airports
WFH opens whole new horizons in terms of flexibility, productivity and cost savings. But it also opens your business to cybercriminals, especially if your employees are using their own devices for work. An experienced IT company can help you overcome the cybersecurity challenges propelled by the WFH scenario. So, put your mind at ease this holiday season by taking care of everything on this WFH wish list and have a secure and happy holiday.
Peter Johns is director of business development for Empower Information Systems, Inc.. Johns can be reached at 757-273-9399 (w), 757-871-5662 (c) or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Request a complimentary network security risk assessment at www.empoweris.com.