Winning the Battle for Data Security in Remote Work

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies have more employees working from home now than they did two years ago. As a result, these companies are at an increased risk of cybersecurity incidents. With the remote workforce growing, it’s important to consider how your company can ensure adequate data security within the new digital landscape.

The Remote Workforce is Growing

Since the beginning of 2020, most companies have experienced a significant increase in their number of remote workers. Prior to the pandemic, 5.7 million Americans – 4.1% of the workforce – were working from home at least part of the time. By September 2021, more than year into the pandemic, 45% of employees were working remotely at least part of the time.

Naturally, remote work isn’t equally suitable for all industries. According to Owl Labs, the top three industries for remote workers are healthcare, technology, and financial services. These are all industries that deal in large quantities of sensitive data.

Data Security is Essential for Remote Workers

The problem with a remote workforce is that it’s inherently less secure than the traditional office environment. Because they’re working in less restrictive environments, remote workers raise a number of security issues for any organization. These include:

  • Use of nonsecure personal devices, especially smartphones
  • Higher incidence of malware on home computers
  • Higher risk of theft for mobile phones and laptop computers
  • Risk of hackers intercepting sensitive business communications over less-than-secure home networks and public hotspots

The last risk is perhaps the most significant. Without the proper security measures in place, unauthorized third-parties can eavesdrop on remote communications to access valuable data. They can also employ man-in-the-middle tactics to gain access to corporate networks via remote communications.

For these reasons, data security is essential for any organization’s remote workforce to protect against inadvertent data incidents.

How to Ensure Data Security for Remote Workers

It’s essential for organizations with remote workers to enhance their cybersecurity efforts. Remote security should focus on secure file access, which is necessary for employees sharing files remotely, and secure communications. The following strategies are recommended.

Use a VPN for Remote Access

Most remote workers connect to the corporate network via home wireless networks or public hotspots. Neither type of connection offers the same level of security as connecting to the on-site wired network.

To improve the security of these remote connections, you can offer remote workers a virtual private network (VPN) that provides a secure “tunnel” between the user’s device and your network. This will make it substantially more difficult for unauthorized third-parties to intercept remote communications and file transfers.

Employ Zero Trust Access

The more users who have access to a given file, the higher the risk of unintended disclosure. For this reason, it’s important to only grant file access to employees who need it. No employee, no matter their level or title, should have universal access to every single communication.

To secure your important data, your corporation should adopt Zero Trust access. This limits data access to only the employees who absolutely need it, thereby reducing the number of people and devices accessing your system.

Insist on Secure Authentication

When workers are accessing your system remotely, it’s important that their identities be properly authenticated. This means they must use strong passwords, change their passwords on a regular basis, and use multi-factor authentication (MFA). Requiring login via MFA helps prevent unauthorized users from cracking passwords and gaining access to your system.

Replace Email with Secure File Sharing

Email is a convenient way for remote workers to share files with their team members. However, email is actually the least secure form of communication they can use. Not only are email messages easily spoofed, but 66% of all malware is installed via files attached to email messages.

For more secure collaboration, offer employees a secure file sharing solution to use instead of email. With the proper authentication and access controls, secure file sharing is a much safer and more convenient way to access files remotely.

Encrypt All Remote Communications

The most important thing you can do to improve data security for your entire workforce is to fully encrypt all their communications, both on-site and remote. By employing robust end-to-end encryption, you can ensure that all communications and data is protected in-transit, even if it is intercepted by an unauthorized third-party. End-to-end encryption protects against both eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle tactics that target remote communications.

Use Wickr to Secure Remote Communications

If you are looking to improve data security for your remote workforce, Wickr can help. Wickr is a secure communications platform that includes all the remote security tools discussed here – and more. Our security tools can help your organization secure all text, voice, and video communications, as well as provide secure file sharing for remote collaboration. Wickr is the premier secure communications solution for your organization’s growing remote workforce.

Contact us today to learn more about how Wickr can help your organization secure its remote communications.

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