The proverb, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, applies to a variety of situations, but especially in the context of the security awareness of a company’s employees. A simple click on a phishing link can expose a company to major losses, both financially and information-wise.

Unfortunately, remote work increases the chances of employees inadvertently exposing the organization to major security and privacy threats. Some of the safeguards that are put in place at the office are not available to employees working from home, creating a unique set of risks for organizations. These risks are even further elevated when employees are under stress and pressure.

Because of the risks, and aside from the security practices employees usually learn about in the office, a few new guidelines are necessary to safeguard working from home. With the extra strain currently being put on our remote workforces in Oregon and around our country, now is the time to put user-awareness training in place for your team.

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These are the areas that companies should focus on to increase remote-work cybersecurity:

Remote Work Security Policies

To start, it’s important to review current cybersecurity policies to determine if there are any policies that can be applied to remote work. If there are none, then organizations should establish some basic guidelines to help employees safely work remotely.

Network Security

Avoiding public Wi-Fi can significantly reduce the security risk. Unfortunately, since other people have access to the public network and no firewall between the employee and them, attackers can access their computer from across the room. A simple solution could be to use a hotspot from their mobile device or use a VPN to protect their traffic.

Personal Devices

Advise employees to keep work data on work computers. Often, if your organization has an efficient IT team, work devices have regular updates, anti-virus scans, blocking of malicious websites, etc. However, this might not be the case with employees’ personal devices, hence making it not safe for work information because it could be compromised. This is why it is especially important to add extra steps and training when working from home, making sure your employees are taking the necessary steps to avoid putting company data at risk.

Authentication & Authorization

Multi-factor authentication, monitoring access controls, and creating strong passwords are essential practices for safeguarding work-from-home company systems. Providing remote workers with the right access methods allows the company to further control data. This helps reduce the risk of sensitive information being accessed by unauthorized personnel outside of the office.

Collaboration Apps Security

Applications such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and WhatsApp have become widely popular for businesses in the last few years. Unfortunately, this allows hackers an opportunity to infiltrate company networks and access sensitive information. In order to maintain data security, IT must have control of the distribution and use, making sure everything is properly encrypted.

Security awareness training can be a challenge but here are some tips to help avoid common missteps that can hinder the learning of your team.

User Awareness Training

Aside from implementing procedures and systems to help employees stay safe while they work from home, it’s also equally important to train them to recognize situations of potential threats. This is an essential part of a company’s security policy, this includes educating and testing employees to help protect the organization against potential threats (such as phishing and other cyberattacks). Particularly, phishing emails are extremely common and can lead to identity or data theft. User security awareness training provides employees with the information they need to understand the dangers of potential threats, recognize attacks and report the situation to protect the organization. Periodically, employees would go through training and simulations to test and reinforce what is being taught.For example sending simulated phishing emails to their emails to see if they recognize the threat. Providing employees with simulated and interactive training will help them and the overall company reinforce security awareness.