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With things going on all over the world, companies have had to shift their operations to work from home models. This means thousands of employees are now at home handling sensitive data that can easily become compromised if the right security protocols and measures are not in place.
Although IT departments should be tasked with ensuring everything is fine, it’s always best to have employees have security measures on their end as well. That starts with the VPN.
There are a number of reasons why employers and employees should be using VPN services. Here are a few:
- Protection against hackers
Hackers are having a field day with so many people online. Their main goal – to get into a company’s server to destroy their system and get the information of their employees and customers. A VPN encrypts everything to prevent that from happening.
- To remain anonymous
It’s important to keep your employees and what they do private. A VPN helps mask their identity online so they can do their work without worry of being compromised.
- To bypass certain geographic restrictions
Depending on where the company or employee is, there may be a need to access information from different regions, or employees in one area of the world need to safely communicate with others. This will allow that.
- To access networks by traveling
Even with the lockdown, there are still employees required to travel and take care of company business. A VPN allows them to travel, get their work done and safely communicate with others.
- To hide browsers from local network and ISP
When working from home, employees should be able to have their information private. Hiding their browsers will deter the hackers and cyber thieves from accessing sensitive information that shouldn’t be shared online.
- To safely download and transmit files
Every company should have protocols in place to safely download and transmit files from employee to company. A VPN provides an encrypted passageway to safely do this on a continuous basis.
Now that working from home is essential, there are a number of tips for ensuring work from home employees are protected. While this is a result of what’s going on around the world, it may soon become the norm. Major companies are beginning to realize how cost-effective it is for them to have employees work remotely, as it cuts the overhead of building and other operational expenses that took a huge chunk of the budget.
It can be difficult to accommodate such a large influx of people on the internet working at one time. That can also add confusion on the right protocols and processes to use, especially if the organization’s servers are not used to this type of infrastructure. This happened so quickly that it may have been difficult to adjust and properly train employees on what they should and should not do.
With so many remote workers having access to the system, this could quickly become problematic in the worst way. Employees are more lax working from home, so they may not utilize the same standards of security used in the office, especially if they are using their personal device.
So how can employees safely work from home without compromising company information?
It is imperative to train employees on all security protocols. This has to be executed as if it were an onboarding for new employees. Different scenarios should be presented to demonstrate what could occur when working remotely. Employees should have to take a quiz to show they understand and will adhere to the policies. This includes using free Wi-Fi hot spots.
2. Wi-Fi Protocols
Employees may not have high-speed internet access at their homes. This could pose a problem, especially if they are transferring and working with sensitive company files. As a result, they may opt to use the free Wi-Fi hot spots in their area offered by cable and telecom companies during this time. The answer to that is no. The company should assist the employee in every way possible to obtain internet in their home. This could include rebates or a stipend to pay for this while working from home.
Until this happens, the employee should consider using the data plan from their phone which is more secure, but should still utilize a VPN. Wi-Fi and any Bluetooth connections should be severed when not in use to avoid connecting to unknown networks.
All devices should be tested to ensure they have the most current software. This is for company-issued and personal computers. Any patches should be installed immediately. The best solution would be issuing all employees encrypted laptops, desktops and phones if possible. If employees are able to use their personal devices, creating security standards that must be followed is key.
At this point, every company and employee all over the world should have a VPN connecting their operations to a server. With so many employees accessing internal documents or going back and forth with each other, having a VPN is essential. This ensures end-to-end encryption will maintain secure transmissions when connecting to other remote computers.
Even with the use of a VPN, antivirus solutions should be an integral part of the security measures. This should be provided by the company to put on every single device being used to access company information. This also helps with the security protocols and standards required of each employee, and helps them abide by the rules.
One of the worst things employees can do is save company files on their personal devices. All companies should have a cloud solution set up to ensure every employee has the accessibility to send those files to a secure server. The IT department should have accessibility protocols in place to make sure sensitive documents have a chain of command.
Only employees with certain clearance should be able to access certain files. By doing this, security breaches will be lessened, and employees who are careless in following security protocols can be identified without compromising company files.
Every employee should have intensive training on password standards. In a number of instances, employees are the culprits when there are data breaches. The security training should include password safety, including how often the password should be changed for their safety and the company’s. IT departments should have a secure password management software installed on everyone’s computer to monitor whether they are being changed when they should.
There should also be guidelines on the type of passwords that should be generated, and multi-factor authentication protocols should be in place on all applications, systems and websites.
How strong is a company’s internal infrastructure if there is no support? Remote support should be ready and available around the clock to assist employees while working from home. A remote access software should be installed on each computer that allows accessibility to locate and detect issues in real-time.
The number of technical issues may rise exponentially, especially for employees who aren’t used to working from home, or using certain software. Each company should factor this into the adjustment process, arranging one-on-one sessions for employees who need the additional assistance.
9. Backup Solutions
There should be protocols in place to automatically back up the server and each employee’s computer on a consistent basis outside of work hours. This is one of the reasons why it makes more sense to have employees working on a company-owned computer. It may not be as easy to perform a backup on a personal computer, especially if the employee has their own sensitive data on it.
With the most stringent security protocols in place in regards to networking and transmission, one of the most overlooked areas is very simple: locking the computer. While working from home and with a number of people in that space, it may seem difficult to keep them away from the work computer.
Making sure the computer is locked every time the user steps away should be common practice, even when in the office. Now it is more crucial than ever to ensure this is done to avoid any “mistakes.”
Employers have a responsibility to ensure their remote employees have everything they need to make this a seamless transition. Having set times to provide feedback to employees on a regular basis will add normalcy to this new working environment.
There should be a landing page within the company’s intranet with all pertinent information. This includes names and numbers of managers, the IT staff, hours of service and any emergency procedures to be followed if needed.
This seems to be a huge task. Depending on the size of the company, it could be, but it is possible to align these steps with employees and the company infrastructure. Having the right team in place will make the transition smooth, while keeping everyone on the same page.
Employees can benefit from having a separate home internet network for work, and should learn how to monitor their bandwidth usage, which could be difficult when there are a number of people using the internet in the home. Using a VPN for all the devices being utilized for company business is key in making remote working a success.