Remote Workforce Cybersecurity: How to Keep Teams And Sensitive Project Data Secure

Remote Workforce Cybersecurity
Image source: Pexels.com

Negosentro | Remote Workforce Cybersecurity: How to Keep Teams And Sensitive Project Data Secure | When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many businesses came to a grinding halt, unsure of what the future would hold. To keep operations going, many companies were forced to turn to a remote workforce. It seemed like a temporary solution, but as 2021 gets into full-swing, the pandemic is still a threat, and it seems that remote work may be here to stay.

The good news is that many companies have realized that a remote workforce can be just as productive as an in-house staff. The bad news is that when employees work from home, they tend to forget about cybersecurity, and this is when hackers step in. Let’s look at the common threats to a remote workforce and how to overcome these pitfalls.

Understand the Threat

According to experts, organizations that have switched to a remote workforce in 2020 are now more at risk of cybercrime than ever. In most cases, this isn’t because employees don’t care, but that they aren’t educated on the risks and how to do their part to avoid them. In fact, in a recent study, 18% of companies surveyed said that they didn’t even see cybersecurity as a priority, and when management doesn’t care, that ignorance trickles down.

Sometimes, to truly convince project managers of the dangers of ignoring cybersecurity, they must be made aware of the potential damage that ignoring the threats could cause. Start with the damage to your reputation. As a project manager, being known as the individual who permitted his team to use weak passwords and allowed a major data breach could mean the end of your career. 

Look at the bigger picture as well. If it becomes public knowledge that the organization you work for has fallen victim to a cybercrime, they could lose business and be required to pay major fines. The average cost to repair a business after a data breach is upwards of $8 million. For a smaller business, this could be too much to take and may result in layoffs and a reduction in your team.

Make a Plan

It’s important to secure your business first, so you’re not caught off guard when a cyber threat occurs. You can do that by completing a risk assessment and business continuity plan. Essentially, these are plans put in place now to mitigate the damage caused by a potential threat in the future. You should have a plan of action for every type of risk that could occur, including utility outages, terrorist attacks, and of course, cyberattacks.

Form a group of experts and consider all potential threats and what steps will be taken immediately to limit the damage and keep your business moving forward. You should have an IT or security professional as part of this group who is educated on current issues and can provide the best solutions. This individual should also be aware of all upcoming security trends, including new scams and viruses, and the technology they will need to thwart these threats.

Start creating this continuity plan now so you won’t be sorry later.

Staying Secure at Home

Even if you have a plan in place, it’s still essential to train your remote employees on proper cybersecurity tactics and ensure they’re putting those strategies in place at home. One of the reasons for the surge in cyber crimes during this remote revolution is that employees are no longer protected by the security blanket put in place by the IT team at the corporate office. Instead, employees are working from home using their own personal networks, and if they’re not protected, a virus could easily transfer from a personal device to a company machine. By the time that happens, the damage is done.

Ensure that all employees are keeping risks at bay by installing antivirus software and carrying out weekly scans. This software should be updated whenever a new version is available in order to fight the newest threats. It’s also a good idea to encourage employees to put their devices on a Virtual Private Network, as a VPN effectively encrypts all incoming data so it can’t be used if stolen.

To stay connected and ensure all tasks are completed accordingly, many companies are turning to digital resources, including project management and collaboration software such as Trello, Slack, and Google Docs. However, though these programs may have their perks, especially for remote teams, they are also notoriously susceptible to cybercrime

You may not be able to tell if a third party can be easily manipulated, but you can do your part to secure your data when using these programs. Pair strong passwords with two-factor authentication. Also, if an employee with access to sensitive data leaves the company, be sure to restrict their access.

Common Scams

Again, hackers are very much aware that 42% of the labor force is currently working remotely, and they are doing everything they can to take advantage, so train your team on the common threats. When government COVID-19 restrictions allow, many people are still leaving the house to work from coffee shops and other public places, but caution is necessary, especially when using public Wi-Fi.

The Man-in-the-Middle attack is a common threat in public places. Essentially, this is a fake Wi-Fi network set up to look like the authentic Wi-Fi used by the establishment. When the user unknowingly connects to the fake network, they are connecting directly to the hacker who can then steal the data on their device. To avoid this threat, employees should always ask the business owner for the proper Wi-FI network and always have their VPN engaged.

Another common scam being used these days is the phishing email, which aims to manipulate the emotions of its recipient in hopes that they will click the malicious link or attachment included within, and by doing so, their device becomes infected by malware. For instance, a phishing email could appear to be from a network administrator at your job, asking you to click a link for security. Many phishing emails are also taking advantage of the pandemic by promising information about free tests or vaccines. It is important to remind your team that these types of emails exist and that a link or attachment should never be opened unless the recipient is assured by management that it is safe. 

In these strange times, companies have enough concerns to deal with. Take the proper precautions, educate your staff on the risks, and cybercrime doesn’t have to be one of them.