remote workers
(Last Updated On: March 17, 2020)

Most employers are wising up to the fact that the traditional butt-in-chair model of the workplace is a huge productivity drain. Commuting workers spend more time in traffic, feel less satisfied with their jobs, and get sucked into office drama a lot more often than their telecommuting co-workers. But having all that sensitive data outside the office can also open your company to security risks.

How do you make sure that remote work doesn’t create a security breach in your company?

Like anything else in the workplace, it turns out that cyber security is a team effort. In this guide, we give you two cyber security checklists to beef up your security strategy. The first checklist tells you how employers of remote workers can keep company data secure, and the second checklist tells you what employees can do to minimise cyber security risks as they telecommute.

Let’s get started!

Use this cyber security checklist if you employ workers in a telecommuting job:

1. Get secure web hosting

Good cyber security starts with secure web hosting. Shared hosting packages are often the lowest priced hosting packages you can buy. But, especially if you allow remote work, we recommend that you choose a more inherently secure type of web hosting.

If you love the affordability of shared hosting, we recommend VPS hosting, in which you still share a server with other users, but you get the added security of having your own Virtual Private Server.

If you have the budget for it, you’ll enjoy even more security if you choose a server that’s dedicated to only your company’s network: dedicated hosting. After you choose your dedicated server hosting package, be sure to carefully follow our dedicated server security checklist.

2. Use two-factor authentication

Two-Factor Authentication means you require your employees to provide two pieces of proof of identity before they’re allowed to access sensitive data. For instance, they might be required to enter a password and a PIN, or a password and a four-digit code that’s sent to their phone when they enter their password. This second step isn’t too much extra hassle, but it’s one more barrier between hackers and your data.

3. Encrypt all emails

When most people picture a hacker, they probably imagine a hooded figure staring at a screen while furiously typing impossibly long strings of code. But not all hacking is that dramatic. Some hackers get access to sensitive information by disguising a malicious email as a standard customer request for more information. Encrypt all your emails to ensure that sensitive information can only be read by the intended recipient.

4. Limit access to sensitive information

Not all your workers need to have admin-level privileges on your company’s network. The more people have access to your sensitive data, the more opportunities for that data to be breached.

Limit the number of employees who have total access to your company’s most sensitive information.

5. Use secure remote connectivity

Have a policy in place that requires any employees connecting to the company network to do so through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that encrypts communications from the remote worker’s device.

6. Have a clearly defined policy in writing

The best way to ensure that your employees follow your cyber security policy is to have your policy clearly written down in a place that’s accessible to all your employees. The added benefit of this is that it’s easier to enforce a policy that’s in writing.

7. Use apps to restrict data access

To give yourself more peace of mind that your remote workers can’t transfer or steal your data, use apps that monitor and prevent data transfers. You can either install these apps on your employees’ personal devices or provide devices that your employees will exclusively use to access company data.

8. Use Microsoft hosted exchange

Microsoft hosted exchange helps keep all your remote workers and your commuting workers on the same page regarding projects, deadlines and meetings. Keeping your remote workers in the loop is one of the most important things you can do for your cyber security. With Microsoft hosted exchange, you can quickly alert all your workers to possible threats and keep track of communications with legitimate clients.

9. Use a cloud-based backup system

Content storage should be allowed on cloud-based backup systems only. Also, be sure to use cloud or internet-based storage software for sharing and editing documents.

10. Have a plan in case devices are stolen or lost

All the cyber security plans in the world will do little to prevent a physical device from being stolen. So, have a contingency plan in case devices are stolen or lost. If a remote worker loses a device with sensitive company information, you’ll sleep much better if you know that the laptop can be tracked and, if necessary, remotely wiped.

And now, the cyber security tips for remote workers:

Use this cyber security checklist if you work in a telecommuting job:

1. Change your default usernames and passwords

This is for your protection as well. If your company hands you a device that’s already secured with a username and password, change them to ensure that you’re the only person who has access to sensitive company data.

2. Keep away from “guest” Wi-Fi networks

If you work in a telecommuting job, you need to be even more careful about the Wi-Fi networks you use. Keep your “guest” Wi-Fi networks separate from your work-related Wi-Fi to prevent accidentally giving unauthorised data access to people you allow to use your personal device.

3. Keep your mobile devices and laptops secure

This is a really low-tech strategy for securing data when you have a telecommuting job, but it works. The first line of defence against data theft is making sure that you always keep your mobile devices and laptops with you or in your line of sight.

4. Don’t use public Wi-Fi for work-related activities

Public Wi-Fi is more vulnerable to malicious attacks. This means that if you need to work from hotels or coffee shops as part of your telecommuting job, you might be putting sensitive company data at risk. So, never use public Wi-Fi to access sensitive data.

5. Be careful when you’re doing work in public

Data breaches don’t necessarily involve hacking or other highly technical skills. Sometimes, it can be as simple as someone peeking over your shoulder while you’re doing work in public.

So, when you’re working in a public place, be aware of your surroundings. Angle your screen away from other people and be discreet when entering your username, password, and other login information.

Wrapping up

Remote work has been proven to increase productivity and employee morale, but the downside of a telecommuting job is that carelessness can open a company to security breaches. However, with vigilance and a properly laid out cyber security plan, you can minimise these security risks while reaping all the benefits of the modern telecommuting job.