2023 Tips: Cybersecurity for Remote Workers

Even as the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic is fading, the advent of the remote worker continues, as do the related cybersecurity threats. With many individuals continuing to enjoy the option of working from home, the increase in cybersecurity threats during this period has been difficult for many IT departments to handle. The continued trend towards remote and hybrid work teams means that your IT department needs to stay on top of these threats. In this article, we'll discuss the top VoIP Security Challenges with remote workers, as well as tips that will make your remote workers a part of the solution instead of a part of the problem.


What are the Cybersecurity Threats facing Remote Workers?

Cybersecurity threats entail the vulnerabilities your business may face concerning its digital assets. This can include individual computers, server data storage, software, mobile devices, telecommunications hardware and software, and any number of other vulnerable systems. Your remote workers could be working on their own computers at home, which have not been checked to meet your company's data security requirements. They could use their cell phones for communications, which might not be secure against surveillance. Their home networks may not be secure.

Similarly, beyond the hardware that has not been secured are software vulnerabilities. Apps can record conversations you need to keep confidential, whether due to competition or legal requirements. Workers can click on a seemingly useful link from a coworker and then infect their entire system with a virus, malware, or ransomware. Private information can be siphoned off for hackers and criminal organizations to use. By securing your organization through educating your remote workers, you can do a lot to protect your organization from cybersecurity threats.


How to Protect Against Cybersecurity Threats in 2023 and Beyond

  1. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
    If you don't have any other way to protect data in transit between a remote worker's home and your office, require a VPN. To create a visual of what this is like, a VPN is similar to having a pipe or tunnel through which your data passes between two points. This pipe or tunnel prevents any outside viewers, including hackers and cybercriminals. Because the data is protected from their viewing, it's protected and can't be used for other purposes. VPN Security is especially relevant when using unsecured public WiFi access, such as airports, restaurants, and locations where data may be vulnerable.
  2. VoIP
    Setting up your office and remote workers with a Voice over Internet Protocol system helps protect against vishing attacks because the connection between the worker, the office, and other remote workers is secured against surveillance. If, by comparison, you allow remote workers to communicate through their smartphones, there's a chance that other people can be listening in to your company's private data, including information that can be used in identity theft.
  3. Company-Provided Digital Assets
    If an employee is using their personal computer to connect to the office, there's no telling what other programs, viruses, malware, or similar cybersecurity threats could be present in that asset. Instead of allowing employees to use personal computers for work purposes, require them to use a company-provided device, such as a tablet, smartphone, laptop or desktop computer. This allows you to remain in control of what's on the device, how it's configured, and how it may be used by the employee to limit vulnerability.
  4. Firewalls
    It's not unusual for homeowners or renters to fail to set up effective firewalls on their home internet connection. If your remote workers are using their home internet, it's important to have IT undertake a security evaluation of that setup and provide additional security factors to keep the company's data secure. Your remote worker's household will also benefit because their personal data will be better protected against hacking and malware from external parties.
  5. Data Storage and Processing
    Data storage and processing should also be addressed. When data is stored in the home, remote workers should be required to use encryption or should have encryption set up on their work-provided digital assets, such as a laptop, tablet, or another device. If data is kept on connected storage devices, such as USB drives or portable hard drives, those devices must be encrypted and stored securely between uses, such as in a locked desk drawer or home safe. This prevents data loss in the event of a burglary. If an external storage device is used, make sure it's provided by the company and train remote workers not to use unauthorized storage devices, which could be preloaded with malware, in company assets.
  6. Education
    The best way to prevent cybersecurity threats from causing harm to your organization is by educating your remote workers. If they can gain an understanding of how cybersecurity threats work, how cybercriminals operate, and how they approach their victims, it's much easier to get them to follow the policies and procedures that you put into place. This understanding should showcase the importance of cybersecurity and how badly a company can be harmed if a cybersecurity threat is successful in gaining access to your systems. For all workers, remote, hybrid, or in-office, a comprehensive IT onboarding should include a range of cybersecurity training topics for new employees.

educate your employees of cybersecurity

  1. Strong Passwords and Password Managers
    It's very easy for remote workers to get into the habit of using the same simple password for every system they access. Require them to build some complexity into their passwords, mixing in numbers for specific letters such as 3 for E, adding symbols, or using password phrases for complexity. A particular favorite of internet security professionals is to use a sentence or quotation, using only the first word of each sentence. As an example, “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain,” would become TriSsmitp. This adds a level of complexity that makes it much harder for hackers to break. Encourage them to avoid using important dates, family names, or similar easy-to-guess passwords.

    While passwords might seem a simple protection method, but secure, frequently updated passwords that users don’t have to remember or store (on post-its) are an effective way to keep your data safe. Password managers are the ideal way to generate robust, single-use passwords that guard you and your organization against reputational damage and loss of revenue.
  2. Multi-Factor Authentication
    Multi-Factor, or frequently just two-factor authentication or verification is an authentication mechanism to double-check check your identity is legitimate. The intention is to provide stronger protection against unauthorized access to user accounts. Its purpose is to make it harder for cyber attacks to happen and reduce fraud risks.  It introduces a code or message generated from an authentication device, e.g., a cell phone, without which a login is not authorized.
  3. Single Sign-On (SSO):
    Single Sign-On is an authentication scheme that allows a user to log in with a single ID and password to any of several related, yet independent, software systems.
    Reducing login to one set of credentials improves enterprise security. When employees have to use separate passwords for each app, they usually don’t.
  4. Policies and Procedures
    You can set up any of the above options to protect your company against cybersecurity threats, but that doesn't mean anything if your remote workers ignore the protections that have been put in place. Set up policies that include consequences for breaking those policies, such as receiving a write-up for using a personal cell phone for business communications outside an emergency, doing work on a personal computer, disabling firewalls on their home network, or failing to use a VPN to protect company data in transit. Similarly, procedures such as regularly-scheduled backups, handling cybersecurity threats, and similar areas of concern should be written up.

By taking the time to go over these issues with your remote workers, you'll be able to avoid many cybersecurity threats that could cause a great deal of damage to your business. If you need help reviewing the benefits of VoIP specifically as a solution for your business, we'd be happy to help you through the process. Contact us with any questions, for more details, or to request a quote on how our VoIP services can help you secure your remote workers' communications.

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