How to Maintain Security When Employees Work Remotely: Best Practices of Remote Working Security Policy

article by Rachel Carr
March 23, 2020
More and more of us are working from home or remotely. Virtual teams are becoming more prevalent as technology advances allow us to work from anywhere in the world. While this sounds great in theory, it does open us up to remote working security risks that can mean our work and data is accessed by cyber criminals and hackers.
In this article, we look at how to maintain security when employees work remotely and how you can make remote work cybersecurity efficient enough so that your employees can remotely work from home.

Additionally, we look at why taking onboard remote working security risks are important and any issues that could arise from employees working from home. In doing so, we investigate some of the best ways of remoting into a company’s secure server.

Finally, we recommend a couple of VPNs that can really work towards addressing security issues with working remotely and why they should be part of any work from home security policy.

However, in brief, we recommend:

  • ExpressVPN: We like ExpressVPN due to its ease of use and robust security measures that result in one of the most secure VPN products on the market.
  • Surfshark: This VPN provider is a great option for those looking for a VPN for remote work as it allows an unlimited amount of simultaneous connections with just one subscription.

Remote Work Cyber Security – And Why It Is Important

Maintaining robust cybersecurity is incredibly important when you have a workforce that can and have to, remote work. In a day and age where more and more people need the flexibility that remote work allows, employers, have to be able to provide remote working solutions to improve productivity, whilst upholding the security of their data.

Here we look at reasons why data needs to be kept secure:

Online criminals

Without a doubt, one of the biggest security issues with working remotely is the chance of being subjected to an online attack by hackers and online criminals. They can wreak havoc with a company’s productivity and the capabilities of its employees. They can either install malware on your network that slows your software and hardware right down or access documents and files full of company sensitive information.

Once they have hold of this data, they can use it to their own advantage and how they see fit. If they manage to install malware on your computers and larger network, they can actually hold your company to ransom until you pay a fee to rid your company of the viruses they have established.

Government intervention

Depending on what country you live in, there will be a question of how much your government is allowed to spy on its citizens. That means that companies can find themselves being investigated by authorities who are legally allowed to do so. Understandably, few companies will want this to occur however and if employees work from home, the risks of remote working increase the chance that governments with prying eyes can infiltrate a company’s workplace with ease.

This can be a huge problem for companies with an international reach as different cultures react differently to the amount that a government can look into a company’s files and records. For instance, a person from Switzerland where privacy is taken very seriously may have huge issues doing business with a Chinese company where the government oversees so much of the online activity of its country and its citizens.

Integrity of data

For it to be possible to remote work, employees have to be sure that the data, files, and documents that they receive and send online are never interfered with. The reason being is that if there is even a chance that an online criminal could intercept data and use it to his or her own advantage, the result is that that data has been compromised. From that point on, it is not possible to trust the data that employees send and receive, and as such, their productivity levels are materially different.

Reputational damage

As a natural extension of the integrity of data with respect to remote working security risks, the reputational damage that a company can be exposed to is huge, if it is widely known that their network has been breached. Customers and clients of companies are less likely to stay loyal to them should they know that their online data could have been accessed by hackers.

Security Issues With Working Remotely

There are a number of risks of remote working. However, it is absolutely imperative for a company to allow employees to work from home or remote work. It is a way that a company can improve productivity as well as employee satisfaction, giving them the flexibility to work from wherever they want or can. However, as alluded to above, it is rife with security issues.

Here we investigate how remote working security risks can impact you and your company to help you work towards a comprehensive work from home security policy.

Phishing scams

One of the ways that hackers infiltrate a system is through getting employees to open up one of their bogus emails and click an embedded link within it. That link can send your employees anywhere and if they are connected to your internet at the time or looking through data files while clicking that embedded link, then your company will experience a security risk.

Wifi Networks

One of the best things about working remotely is the ability to work from anywhere. However, that poses risks to your company’s network if your employees are not working over a secure server or internet connection. This is especially true of Wifi networks in public arenas.

The reason being is that online criminals can view a person’s online activity if they are both connected to the same internet connection. Additionally, if a person is working from home using an internet connection that is not secured, the same issues and risks arise.

USB sticks

Another one of the many risks of remote working is that information and data is taken out of your company building. When it has left that safe arena, it is possible for it to be intercepted by those looking to partake in illegal activity. While this can happen when employees download or upload information to a cloud storage facility, it can also be a risk for those that use USB sticks.

These forms of storage may be a little outdated now, but they are still used. Bearing that in mind, it is important to take into consideration employees who do still use them. Many companies ban them for security reasons.

One of the most important ideas to remember when identifying these risks of remote working is to educate your workforce about them. In doing so, you emphasize the importance of all your employees adhering to your work from home security policy and taking on board the working remotely security tips that you announce.

What Are Some Of The Best Ways Of Remoting In To A Company’s Secure Server?

There are a number of ways to remote into a company’s secure server. Without a doubt, our top recommendation is to use a VPN for remote working as it will address most security issues that arise from work from home employees. The reason that a VPN is such a good idea is that it is a secure, virtual private network that hackers won’t be able to crack.

This is thanks to a wide range of protective measures that a VPN can have. What this range includes is down to the provider, but we like to see elements like 256 AES Bit encryption that encrypts all data sent over the VPN’s server. The protocols that a VPN provider also uses are important as well as features such as a kill switch that will cut off any internet connection should a VPN drop-out.

Other ways of remoting into a company’s secure server include using an RSA key or apps that allow you to access your desktop from your mobile device or laptop. The problem here is that the connection itself is not encrypted like it is with a VPN. It is encrypting the internet connection that helps make using a VPN to remote into a company’s secure server so safe.

The same could be said of allowing employees access to an online cloud storage facility. While this means that your workers can access information safely and use it securely, it does not protect the connection with which they work from. It is during transmission therefore that your data becomes vulnerable to prying eyes.

Best VPN for Remote Working Recommendations

These are our recommendations for the best VPN providers for remote working. There are other excellent brands out there, however, we believe that these two are strongly suited to the demands of remote working for business purposes.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Logo

ExpressVPN is perfect for those looking to implement a safe and secure remote working policy into their company. It has a comprehensive and robust product with a thorough approach to online protection.

For starters, it has AES 256 Bit encryption which is what the US Government uses to ensure their data remains private. The provider also employs the use of a kill switch so that should their VPN connection drop out with a customer, the internet connection is immediately cut off too. The result is that customers are not exposed to an unsecured connection for even a minute.

Another great thing about ExpressVPN and why its product is so suitable for remote work from home is the ease of use. This is important as it ensures that all employees will use it which is the only thing that will make sure of the integrity of your security policy. In addition, it’s quick connection speeds mean that it is practical to use as well as it does not affect a person’s online productivity. The result is that employees can access online files and data from your network as if they were in the office.

Sign up to ExpressVPN to make the most out of its exciting features.

Surfshark

Surfshark VPN

There are so many wonderful features to Surfshark, but the best thing that stands out about its offering is the fact that it has an unlimited number of connection allowance. Often, VPN providers offer a handful at most per subscription. With Surfshark, you can have as many as you need which means you keep your costs down.

Additionally, it allows employees to access content safely. It ensures that employees can keep their location private and also makes sure that any sensitive data that they are working on is secure. Employees will also have a seamless user experience when employing the use of a VPN to complete work on. This is thanks to Surfshark’s CleanWeb feature that stops any ads, trackers, malware or phishing emails getting through to your employee’s device. This improves productivity whilst maintaining the sanctity of your network.

Additionally, it has a kill switch, private DNS and leak protection and a strict no logs policy. This means that all your data is secure when your employees establish a VPN with a Surfshark server. Plus, if necessary, Surfshark has a camouflage mode which means that not even the internet provider can tell that your employees are using a VPN.

With Secure Thoughts, readers can access Surfshark’s products for $1.99 a month if they sign up for a two-year subscription. For a monthly plan, the cost is $11.95 or if you sign up for a year, it will cost you $5.99 a month.

Using a Free VPN for Remote Work

While there are some VPNs that are better than others, in general, we don’t like to recommend free VPNs. This is particularly the case for any type of activity where your security is of paramount importance to you. Given that the majority of data transmitted online in the process of remote working will be sensitive, it’s likely that you will need a VPN provider that has the most robust security features in place.

A free VPN server will never be market-leading when it comes to security issues as it cannot afford to be. Free VPN providers need to make money somewhere and often this can be at the expense of its security measures. By using less stringent security techniques, they are able to cut costs and improve their profit margin. This can mean that users are opening themselves up to connections that are more easily infiltrated by hackers. Additionally, some free VPN providers maintain logs with the sole purpose of selling the data on its users to improve profits.

While security is of the utmost importance when looking for a VPN for remote work, to be able to work from home or remote work from anywhere, users also need a quick connection to ensure that they can be productive. Nothing will slow an employee down more than connectivity that is weak and limited through bandwidth. Yet, this is how some free VPN providers make their money. Their users are subjected to pop ads while trying to connect to servers that are slow as they are old and inefficient.

The best VPN providers will never suffer from these sorts of issues. How remote access VPN works mean that providers offer their products for reasonable subscription amounts and users get an impressive piece of software that allows them to continue to work from home without any of the risks of remote working. A VPN for remote work doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to provide a quick connection that is secure.

How to Maintain Security When Employees Work Remotely – The Bottom Line

How to maintain security when employees work remotely is imperative to learn for business leaders and IT departments. Then establishing a work from home security policy as quickly as possible is just as important as learning what risks there to keep your company safe from.

Education should be a huge part of that policy. Empowering employees with the knowledge of what will happen if they don’t stick to key principles behind your policy will help maintain high standards. Ideas like keeping passwords strong and varied, preferably with a password management system, are key to pass on to your employees. Additionally, highlighting to them when connections are safe and when they are not is also a crucial idea to relay.

However, giving employees the ability to remote work is crucial and will increasingly be so in the future. With improved connectivity via smartphones, tablets, and laptops, employees no longer need to be chained to their desks in an office. Having a VPN that can work with all these devices is important too so that your employees can work in a way that makes them as productive as possible. In doing so, you will be able to improve your profit margins.

Remote work cybersecurity is crucial to get right, therefore. Businesses have so much to gain from allowing their employees the flexibility of remote work, but they do need to have in the forefront of their mind how much there is to lose too by not having a good work from home security policy. This article will have pointed you in the right direction of establishing such a policy by answering what are some of the best ways of remoting into a company’s secure server. Giving employees the ability to learn how remote access VPN works is vital in that response.