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Securing Your Remote Workforce

April 7, 2021

Over the past decade, the remote workforce slowly grew until the pandemic quarantine. After the new normal, an increasing number of top employees now demand remote work opportunities.

Maintaining talent and attracting millennial talent has become contingent on offering flexible work situations. Securing your remote workforce is crucial to support private collaboration in the cloud. Discover how to secure your remote workforce and prepare your business for any work situation.

Company Controlled Firewalls and Equipment

Working at home during COVID-19 meant many companies scrambled to handle security concerns. Management and the IT team had to address workers accessing company data via personal and mobile devices. Company-issued equipment, such as laptops and PCs with company-controlled firewalls, help maintain the highest security level. While this isn’t always possible with newer concepts such as BYOD (bring your own device), it does increase the control and security that the IT team has over endpoints and edge networks.

Maintaining control over data privacy by establishing secure collaboration and communication channels is essential today. Accessibility is also critical and addressable with authentication and authorization to access specific software, portals, and information. During the transition to remote work, access to ongoing IT support and managing secure endpoints is essential.

Trust No One Strategy

A business’s reputation depends on protecting its customers’ and employees’ privacy. With that in mind, companies should consider adopting a “trust no one” strategy. This means configuring apps and the network because you don’t trust the networks from which they are accessed. An example is requiring encryption for documents containing private data or utilizing multifactor authentication with conditional access with the condition being a known network.

Zero-trust network access and customized access policies for employees help protect data at every level of its journey. Trusting no one protects your business and its data by ensuring the data is encrypted at rest and in transit, that locations or devices that are not secure don’t have unnecessary access, and that your company complies with current security regulations. Also, a side effect of zero-trust is that it helps prevent complex security configurations that tend to create unintended consequences or vulnerabilities.

Device Management and Security

Company-issued equipment is preferred because corporate security controls are already in place in many companies. Remote workers may also be required to use personal devices to stay connected in BYOD scenarios. Regulating the use of personal devices and communicating remote-work security policies to your staff and other system users is an important step to secure your infrastructure. For example, if an employee sells a personal device that contains work information or, even worse, the device is stolen, a potential security breach occurs.  

Some companies require employees to use a VPN (virtual private network), but not all are created equal and may not be the best solution. A VPN grants a user and device access like it’s on the secure network and encrypts the traffic in between; however this leads to more complexity in many cases. This is better than an employee accessing company networks and applications over public, insecure Wi-Fi hotspots and requires that the device is secured sufficiently. The most viable solution is to provide your employees with secure cloud services for storage, collaboration, and device backup. This allows users to benefit from a “work anywhere” policy with a zero-trust configuration that is safe and secure since it is device independent.

Safeguards at Every Level

Consider connection, encryption, application, role, and endpoint security to ensure safeguards exist at every level through to the end-user. Ongoing communication and educating your team about security policies keep everyone safe. Talk to employees about creating secure passwords and online dangers, such as malware and phishing, so they recognize potential security breaches. Cybersecurity training is beneficial for remote workers to understand security at every level.

Make sure cloud collaboration environments are secure. Always encrypt sensitive information being transmitted, such as financial or employee records. Also, set up an external network for remote access and use session monitoring and conditional access to protect data and connectivity. Finally, remember to keep your software and hardware updated and patched, including remote devices. This is a common point of entry for hackers, and once the device is compromised, passwords and encryption can be easily circumvented by piggybacking onto valid user sessions.

Establish Remote Access Policies

Successful management of a remote workforce begins with a remote work security plan. Share the plan with employees and focus on always maintaining personal security diligence. Educate the team about privacy, public networks, personal devices, encryption, confidential data, and how data is backed up and secured. Discuss best email practices and how to deal with phishing.

As more people join the remote workforce, continue to refine your security policies. Hackers are continually finding new ways to gain unauthorized access to private data. Work with IT specialists to stay ahead of the curve and develop methodologies to address the latest security concerns.  

Benefits of the Cloud for the Remote Workforce

Using the cloud for the remote workforce gives businesses greater control over authorization, access, and security. Upgrades occur automatically in real-time for consistency across all platforms and devices. Plus, customization is possible to keep up with security updates based on current best practices.  

Remote work is beneficial for both employees and employers. The cloud supports real-time communication and collaboration from any location using any type of internet-connected device. Workers enjoy greater flexibility, increased productivity, and reduced commuting time—management benefits by attracting top talent that demands remote work opportunities. Plus, remote work helps reduce our carbon footprint (which we’ll discuss in a future blog post!).  

Since COVID-19, the remote workforce grew exponentially and will continue to grow. Having a plan to support remote workers and protect your company is essential for your business.

Are you concerned about staying secure in the cloud and supporting your remote work team? Please reach out to us to discuss the safest ways to work in the cloud. We’d love to chat –  contact us at hello@uprisepartners.com.

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