How to Protect Remote Teams from Cyberattacks in the Post-COVID Era: 7 Effective Strategies

Kate Noether | Updated: 17-10-2020 15:16 IST | Created: 17-10-2020 15:16 IST
How to Protect Remote Teams from Cyberattacks in the Post-COVID Era: 7 Effective Strategies
Representative Image Image Credit: ANI

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many companies to start having their employees work from home. Some organizations already had work from home protocols in place, so the transition was not that difficult. For others, the transition has been a little more difficult and has required them to enact new procedures and re-train their employees.

With more employees working from home, there is an increased risk for cyber-attacks. Cyber criminals are taking advantage of the lack of familiarity new remote workers have with cyber threats. Employers play a vital role in protecting the remote teams by educating them on cyber security threats and providing them the tools needed to do their jobs effectively and safely.

Many organizations are requiring their employees to use a VPN. A VPN provides an additional layer of security by creating a secure tunnel and encrypting information being sent to and from a server. However, if employees do not understand how a VPN works, they may get frustrated when they cannot access the information or make the contact they want. They may try to circumvent the VPN, putting themselves and the organization at risk of cyber-attack.

The challenge that organizations are facing is the ability to remain productive while lowering cyber security risks. There are some tricks that employees working remotely can use to help improve their safety when working from home.

1.  Adhere to All Company Guidelines

The tendency is for work at home employees to become lax with implementing company guidelines. However, when working from home, following company guidelines becomes more important than ever.

By taking the right precautions, work from home employees can reduce the chance of their company suffering a data breach or from them becoming a victim of a cyber attack.

2. Make Good Use of Cloud Services Approved by Your Organization

Cloud-based services, including most of the top cloud storage solutions, make collaborating virtually a lot easier. They take a lot of the frustration out of sharing sensitive documents, especially when attending online meetings.

Work from home employees will need to connect with partners and colleagues from around the world while they are at home. Your organization has likely predetermined the security protocols they want an approved cloud service to follow. They realize that the security level of these services varies from one cloud provider to another.

You may be tempted to use your own cloud service because you are familiar with it and like some of its features. But it may lack the security that your organization requires. For this reason, it is imperative that you check with your company as to which cloud services are authorized for use based on the security level of your organization.

3. Only Work Using Company Devices

It can be tempting to use your personal laptop or tablet to do work-related tasks. For example, you may be on your personal laptop in the kitchen and receive a phone call telling you a quick email that needs to be sent or a quick piece of data needs to be inputted.

The simplest thing to do would be to handle that task from your personal computer. However, work devices are typically equipped with added security options and integrated protections.

Before they gave you your work computer or work tablet, your IT department reviewed it to ensure that the device is up-to-date and can provide adequate protection against the most common types of cyber threats. For this reason, it is best for you to use the device you received from your company when doing work-related tasks.

4. Only Use Your Work Device for Work

The reverse is also true. Your personal laptop might be a low-end and aging device that is barely suitable for searching the web and streaming videos.

Now, you have your work device that has a powerful CPU, more ram than you could ever have needed, a dedicated graphics card, and enough power for you to play your favorite games or pursue your hobby in video editing.

The temptation could be to use your work computer for personal matters. Doing so could expose your company’s device to a lot of risk.

What’s worse is that you could accidentally backup your private information onto your company’s server. Just think about how embarrassing that might be.

5. Using a VPN Is Key

According to Accenture, almost 70% of businesses find the cost of staying ahead of cybercriminals in 2020 unsustainable. While investing in your company’s cybersecurity isn’t cheap, it costs less than what it would take to recover from any type of cyberattack at this point. Using a VPN happens to be unavoidable with most of the employees working from home, and for that reason being one of the easiest targets for cybercriminals.

There’s no getting around the importance of using a virtual private network, now commonly referred to as a “VPN.” What were formerly security applications used by the enterprise, many secure and reputable VPN solutions allow remote workers to ensure they have a secure connection. “A VPN is going to protect the remote worker's computer and the corporate network from attack,” says network security expert Alex Williams in a recent report on VPN usage in the U.K. In most cases, it’s the company that provides the service, so the employee doesn’t have to go out and get a VPN on their own.

6. Keep Your Work Device Secure

You should keep your work device locked and password protected at all times. If you have kids at home, they may not appreciate the difference between your work computer and your personal computer. All they know is that your work computer is a lot faster and looks a lot nicer. They may use it in a way that puts the device at risk or that links sensitive information.

7. Be on Guard against Phishing Attacks

Cybercriminals are astute. They have been using the current pandemic and the fact people are working from home to engage in targeted phishing attacks. Many of these attacks involve nefarious individuals pretending to provide information about COVID-19 or pretending to be someone from the management at your organization. Their goal is to trick you into clicking on one of their links and visiting a malicious website.

Stay on guard. If you want advice about the COVID-19 situation, get it from reputable government entities and other trusted organizations that work in healthcare. Before replying to an email that seems to come from management, carefully review the source of the email.

The work from home environment is not going anywhere. More employees will work from home. Employees are the first line of defense in protecting the cybersecurity of the organizations they work for. Employers can prepare the remote teams and protect them by educating them and giving them the tools needed to do their jobs efficiently and safely.

(Disclaimer: Devdiscourse's journalists were not involved in the production of this article. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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