How businesses can avoid cyber threats whilst staff work from home

As organisations across the globe implement the widely accepted social distancing protocols and work-from-home policies for their employees, the majority of their workforce is expected to work remotely.

In the past, if workplaces weren’t properly set up to support remote work, they simply used to avoid such arrangements at all costs. However, businesses today don’t have much of a choice when it comes to staff avoiding work from home arrangements, since business continuity must prevail, at the end of the day.

Unfortunately, as a result of this widespread paradigm shift, a vast majority of the newly remote workforce is working out of highly insecure work environments, which is exposing businesses of all sizes, in all verticals, to a plethora of cybersecurity risks. This is why laying the groundwork for enterprise-grade cybersecurity policies is no longer an option for organisations, but a dire necessity!

In this article, we share what kind of necessary steps you should take, as an organisation, to safeguard your best business interests from digital predators, while allowing your staff to securely work from home, and ensure business continuity.

How businesses can avoid cyber threats whilst staff work from home

#1. Perform regular cybersecurity audits

Cybersecurity metrics are quantifiable. By ensuring your organisation regularly monitors the strength of your current cybersecurity measures, follows widely accepted cybersecurity standards and protocols, and takes information security seriously, you are sure to achieve a significant reduction in cybersecurity risks. For achieving such business goals, regular cybersecurity assessments are a must!

#2. Ensure your entire staff adheres to your organisation’s data handling and information security policies

Keep in mind that your company’s confidential business data is only as secure as your organisation’s weakest link. With your staff working from home, it’s now more crucial than ever to update and enforce your organisation’s policies surrounding information security. Consult cybersecurity experts on how you can make sure your staff members are adhering to these policies while they are working from home.

#3. Invest in regularly training your staff on latest cybersecurity best practices

Staff training and awareness have always been key to avoiding most cybersecurity breaches. Since cybercriminals keep coming up with new ways to bypass security mechanisms and trick people into revealing sensitive business information about their organisation, you will need to invest in regular training of your staff.

To start with, train your staff when they work from home on how to:

  • Always use secure internet connections for office work
  • Maintain cyber-hygiene at all times
  • Identify phishing and spoofing attacks
  • Avoid downloading email attachments from suspicious senders
  • Avoid sharing sensitive business information or files with unintended recipients
  • Only install software that’s approved by the IT team

#4. Give network security top priority

Have your IT team monitor your internal network for any potential cybersecurity incidents and loopholes. Ensure that the network is protected with an enterprise-grade firewall and all the work devices of your staff have robust antivirus software installed. In addition to this, make sure you provide your remote staff with a reliable virtual private network (VPN) connection, which will help them effectively encrypt the transfer of sensitive business data in transit, while also masking their IP address.

#5. Set up strict user access control

If any of your company’s internal databases contain sensitive business information, only a few selected people, whose jobs fully depend on it, should be allowed to access it. By implementing an access control policy across the board, such as RBAC (role-based access control), for example, your organisation can effectively reduce the risk of data breaches. When in doubt, follow PoLP (Principle of Least Privilege) as a rule of thumb, when granting user permissions.

#6. Secure your databases by backing them up regularly

Having a proper strategy for disaster recovery is just as important as implementing other security measures. So, make sure your IT team is regularly backing up critical business data and creating multiple copies of the data. It’s always a good idea to store the backups securely in different locations, with at least one copy of the backup located off-site for added physical safety.

#7. Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for secure account login

Stealing sensitive business data is merely a small step for bad actors, once they have access to your employee’s account. A strong password is helpful, but not a sufficient account security measure, all by itself. Two-factor authentication (or 2FA) will provide an added layer of security by relying on a time-sensitive passphrase which is typically sent to the authentic account owner’s mobile device. You can also set it to send out an alert to your IT team, in case any suspicious account login activity is noticed.

#8. Implement email security protocols

By enabling proper email security on your corporate email servers, you protect not just sensitive business information shared in email communications from prying eyes, but also prevent phishing and spoofing attacks. It’s better to block malicious emails before they can even reach the inbox of your unsuspecting staff. To achieve this, make sure your IT team has sufficient DKIM, DMARC, and SPF policies in place to prevent such cyberattacks.

#9. Ensure your staff use only secured devices for remote work

Did you know that close to a third of cybersecurity incidents could be avoided by organisations in the UK, if their employees didn’t use personal devices for work? This means, if your remote staff aren’t restricted to using only secured, company-controlled devices for their work, it could potentially expose your business to countless malware infections and other cyberthreats. Implement strong device control policies and ensure that improper cyber-hygiene of your staff doesn’t put your business continuity at risk.

Final thoughts

In times like these, your organisation simply can’t afford to handle a cyberattack, without risking the future of your business. So, why not take measures to avoid such risks, instead? Quite achievable, if you ask us! So, if you are serious about cybersecurity, reach out to a team of experts and seek recommendations on what can be done to help your company achieve its cybersecurity goals.

If you would like to learn about what your employees can do to avoid cyberattacks, click here!

David Share is the founder and director of Amazing Support, an award-winning managed IT support & cyber security company in London & Hertfordshire. He has professional experience and has been as a company director, as well as head of IT for legal and professional practices over the past 10 years.