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Making remote work secure

If the past year has shown us one thing, it’s that the time-honoured, traditional work situation is not entirely necessary. The old norms of work life have now become an ancient life form in terms of how and where our teams operate.

While many businesses remained operational and successful due to their ability to sharply adjust to change, it may seem tempting for companies and employees to retreat back to how things were prior to March 2020. But, if businesses continue with this fresh new perspective on the ‘new age of office’, they can emerge as leaders.

As more and more employees in all sectors have managed to be productive from the comfort of their newly appropriated home office, the term bring your own device (BYOD) has fast become bring your own environment (BYOE). Making remote work sustainable and seamless is important to the health of employees and to the satisfaction of customers, but what about company security?

Employees bringing entire environments to work such as desktops, laptops, and mobile devices - even if they are using an employer’s device - that are all connected to a personal home network that also hosts smart speakers, security cameras, virtual assistants, and more. Along with the fact that if there are multiple people in a home that are connected to the home’s router, this creates multiple opportunities for potential cyber attacks. Operating outside of an organization’s secure architecture brings risk when workers bring their own environments, opening the door to cyber attacks and data breaches and becoming a permanent part of the enterprise attack surface.

The sudden transition to remote work, and the unforeseen ease at which it played out, may have caused some businesses to overlook the need to establish security policies and protocols. So we have compiled the most crucial steps that an organization can take to create a strong secure remote environment and protect from a range of attacks.

  1. Create strong remote security, BYOD, and mobile device management (MDM) policies. Having policies in place are critical to daily operations and network resilience. Ensuring employees are informed about securing data and company information will help mitigate risk before it arises.
  2. Know what equipment team members are using, ensure they remain up to date with software updates and upgrades, and perform security audits of the tools they are using. Software updates often include critical security patches, improvements to software stability, and remove outdated features.
  3. Incorporate a VPN for company-used tools and systems and ensure employees have their firewalls initiated. They are one of the most popular security tools for remote workers because they protect data online while retaining the same security and functionality as a company network.
  4. Create strong passwords, change them regularly, and use a password manager. This includes passwords for tools, operating systems, and networks. Instituting a system of regular, forced password changes is a simple step that many overlook.
  5. Institute multi-factor authentication. This is surprisingly effective in preventing security breaches and it makes stealing information more difficult and less enticing.
  6. Have a reliable backup and well-documented, structured recovery plan for the worst case scenario. A good recovery plan will ensure your business maintains operations and minimizes disruptions, ensures for a faster recovery and restoration process, and reduces risk of damages or financial impacts. Once you have a recovery plan in place, review it regularly. This could save your business.

The BYOE movement can be an excellent option for businesses and a great recruiting tool that offers flexibility that the old office norms did not. But the devices, operating systems, and networks used in your team members' homes are more vulnerable to network threats that are less common in the office. So it is crucial that all organizations have a solid secuirty plan.

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