The world has changed so much in the past few weeks. While many businesses have already made the successful move to complete remote work conditions, some have yet to establish the new normal. Whether you're held back by an overworked IT team or a lack of a Technology and Data Use Policy, your business must organize remote work procedures for the safety of your network and productivity of your employees.
- Review your Technology and Data Use Policy, or create one if necessary.
- Choose a single video conferencing platform and instant messaging platform by which your employees will communicate.
- Disseminate this information to all employees and request adherence within a designated period.
Video Conferencing Platform
Do you have a video conferencing platform identified? While there are many to choose from and new ones popping up every day, it's crucial to select a provider that you trust. And no, that might not be the biggest name in the business.
Consider your company and its data privacy requirements. While each company has a certain level of intellectual property, some have higher standards required by professional organizations or partners. In other words, how much is your business willing to pay for privacy?
The same goes for an instant messaging platform. Slack is popular, as is Microsoft Teams. The critical piece for both video conferencing and instant messaging is to identify a single platform on which your employees will communicate. Employees juggling several platforms is a recipe for disaster—and decline in productivity.
Not sure you need (or want) an instant messaging platform? While they can indeed become a fly in your ear when trying to focus, it's crucial to have a method that mimics "stopping by someone's desk" for a quick chat. Without it, we're left to email one another incessantly, and worse, get buried in a mountain of email.
- Review or implement a VPN.
- Require cybersecurity training.
- Require multi-factor authentication.
- Educate employees about home network safety.
Employee security is difficult in the best of times when everyone is in the office and on the same network. Now that each employee is on a separate home network, the footprint you need to protect is that much more extensive. Implement these key tactics to help protect your network—and company—from afar.
In normal times, employees think of a virtual private network (VPN) as a way they can access files on a shared company drive from home. Now, it's an essential tool in protecting access points to your network.
If you already have a VPN, ensure your network can handle the new volume load. If you need to set one up, consider getting help from a trusted partner who has managed high levels of security and considerable experience in assisting other customers with this task.
Links from unknown senders seem to be appealing to employees in the office, let alone to those at home where no one is watching. If you're tired of playing "whack-a-mole" with employees who insist on this behavior, it may be pertinent to implement third-party cybersecurity training.
A good training platform will educate your employees about all aspects of cybersecurity, including phishing, smishing, and email best practices. It will also help your employees become overall better cyber citizens. For example, the KnowBe4 system is a subscription that continues to "test" employees after the training with fake phishing emails. This helps IT teams gauge cybersecurity knowledge and progress over time.
Now more than ever, multi-factor authentication is essential to help ensure that access is restricted to users, regardless of a breach of credentials through phishing or hacking. For best results, set the timeout feature to a short time; no longer than 8 hours.
Home Network Safety
Employees are now using their home router and network to access corporate information. Securing a home workplace can be difficult, especially when they aren't your premises to manage. As the skills of your employees allow, encourage users to keep their routers up-to-date and educate those sharing their WiFi about proper cyber safety.
- Consider remote monitoring and management (RMM) with the help of a managed service provider.
- Ensure this RMM platform has web content filtering and anti-virus.
From an information technology perspective, now is the time to consider all the threats that could reach a company without the proper precautions. Since your employees' devices aren't on the secure company WiFi network now, their computers may be susceptible to viruses, dark websites, and issues related to outdated software.
You may consider investing in remote management and monitoring, or RMM, through a qualified and experienced managed service provider. This service provides remote control and visibility of your devices. Through an RMM platform, you can monitor the health and functionality of your endpoints, receive activity reports, and install software or upgrades remotely. You can also view your employees' screens to provide remote IT support when phone support alone is not solving a remote issue.
For further protection, deploy web content filtering to restrict websites based on categories, content, reputation, and geolocation. You already do this when your employees are in the office; however, a remote work environment all but requires it.
Lastly, a robust anti-virus is a must for companies with remote workers. Some RMM platforms provide managed anti-virus, which pushes regular updates to the computers in your company's network and regularly scans for issues.
As we continue to navigate this new normal, communication is king. Inform your employees of new practices, educate them on cyber citizenship, and display the importance of security spending to your leadership. Like the saying goes, the cheapest security breach is the one that never happens.