There are many more remote work opportunities now than a few years ago. More companies are hiring remote workers, and employees now prefer to work from home at least a few days of the week rather than commuting to the office all of the time.
The sudden popularity of remote work in 2020 came with many advantages. Organisations gained 21 per cent more profit on average, and employees turned up for work more than they would in the office. It seems like a win-win for both sides — but, unfortunately, there is at least one glaring negative: the increase in successful cyberattacks on remote workers.
Remote work and cyberattacks
A cyberattack is any activity that intends to destroy or steal information stored on a network, particularly from devices like laptops, phones, servers, and other electronic devices that could endanger a business’s reputation and operation if compromised.
Just as remote work created opportunities and advantages for businesses and workers, it also created risks like cyberattacks that companies and their employees need to work together to address.
In fact, 43 per cent of remote employees inadvertently allow cyberattacks on themselves or their employer. As a result, businesses are encouraged to develop a cybersecurity policy to prevent potential cyberattacks during remote work.
Nine tips for creating a remote work cybersecurity policy
A cybersecurity policy contains a set of guidelines and rules that monitor the access and usage of an organisation’s information technology systems.
To make sure your data is protected and that there is accountability if it is compromised, you, as a business owner with remote employees, must introduce an effective cybersecurity policy. Below are nine tips for creating a cybersecurity policy for remote work.
Educate employees on cybersecurity
Your employees need to know about cybersecurity and all it entails. This is why it is important to introduce regular training sessions in order to update employees on the latest trends and how to avoid falling victim to a cyberattack.
Provide approved work software
When you provide your remote workers with dedicated, work-only software, it means you know what you’re getting when it comes to cybersecurity precautions and built-in safeguards. This will limit potential dangers like accidental loss of, or damage to, company data or risking computer viruses from using unauthorised software.
Encourage two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) ensures authorised verification on a second device before access to information is granted. 2FA is easy and smart and requires little effort to enable. Having your remote workers turn on 2FA for their devices doubles your company’s security and consequently protects your data more thoroughly.
Remind employees to auto-update devices
A regular system update is an excellent way to prevent cyberattacks. Companies should ensure remote employees set up automatic updates for their company-issued and personal devices. Updated devices are beneficial to both organisations and their employees.
For example, data accessed on an employee’s personal device may leak company intellectual property if the operating system is out-of-date. Employees must show equal care in updating their work-related and personal devices.
Use a template
The best way to formulate, communicate about, and enforce a cybersecurity policy is to use a template. Templates ensure your policies are readily available and can be updated at any time. You can easily send a cybersecurity policy template to a remote worker you just hired instead of writing new ones every time.
Here is an outline to create a remote work cybersecurity policy:
- Purpose: This states the reason for a remote work policy.
- Scope: This provides details on the parties involved in the policy.
- Policy details: Contains everything about the policy. From remote access control to data protection and remote system management, this is where you’ll find the main content and everything employees need to know about the policy. You might have different templates for different roles, or you might use this section to describe all roles and how data-handling procedures change accordingly.
- Violations: Provides details about disciplinary actions the company would take if its policy is violated.
- Definitions: This contains descriptions of keywords in the policy.
- Related documents: This names and provides links to other policy-related documents that add further context to the organisation’s remote work policy.
- Approval and ownership: This is where the policy author and organisation members add their signatures to signal their understanding and approval of the document.
- Revision history: This section lists the changes that have been made to the policy since its first publication.
Keep it simple
Less is more. The easier it is to understand a policy, the more employees will comply with it. A simple and easy-to-read policy will result in a faster onboarding process because the reader will begin implementing the content and may not have a reason to ask for clarity because it is simple and easy to read.
Advice on the use of VPNs
You can ensure cybersecurity in remote work through the use of a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs protect your device’s data and prevent websites from collecting information based on your location because they encrypt all your internet traffic. Urge your remote workers to install a VPN on their computers.
Encourage the use of antivirus software
You can quickly detect and prevent viruses from spreading through your devices by installing antivirus software. Encouraging your employees to do the same will ensure company-wide safety from cyberattacks.
Create a sense of urgency
As an organisation, you must emphasise how vital a cybersecurity policy is to your workers, no matter where they report from. Even big companies have fallen victim to the malicious activities of cyber criminals, and it is essential that you make active efforts to prevent the same thing from repeating itself at your company.
Secure your company
Remote work is here to stay. As such, companies need to keep up with the challenges that come with it. From ensuring systems and software are up-to-date to installing VPNs to protect data, cybersecurity is essential and requires the collaborative work of employers and employees alike.