You’ll be hard-pressed to find a company that doesn’t allow any remote access to sensitive networks for workers when away from the office. Though convenient, this access presents a challenge for data security. How can you keep sensitive company data secure while allowing remote workers access to it while they use a variety of wireless signals, devices, and software programs?
Protecting From/With Devices
Data security is somewhat simplified when a remote worker is provided with prepared company-owned computer systems to use outside of the office. Still, most company systems will allow some form of access from an employee-owned device — such as a home computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile device. When this is the case, every privately-owned device that connects to any company network must be secure. Here are a few tips to make this easier.
Switch Up WiFi Credentials
If a cyberthreat can gain access to an employee’s WiFi router, there’s a likely chance they will be able to surveil the worker’s online activity — including sensitive company information. To combat this, establish a protocol for remote employees in which they are required to change the names and passwords of said WiFi routers on a routine basis. Signal names should be inconspicuous, and passwords would be complex to decrease the chance of illicit connectivity. It is also preferred that a WiFi signal used for business purposes at home not be also used by other home devices such as voice-command systems, smart televisions, or other domestic connective devices.
Institute Data Encryption Protocols for Connected Devices
Any remote devices capable of connecting with network data systems should have some form of data encryption system. The most popular methods are via virtual private networks (VPNs). Virtual private networks allow users to transmit encrypted data over less secure internet connections. Though a complete secure WiFi connection is preferred, modern VPNs provide a significant amount of protection from meddling threats for workers on the go.
Require Software Updates for All Connected Devices
When was the last time you received a notification that a new software update was available for your mobile device or computer? If you’re like most people, you likely ignored it or delayed it with no plan to return to install it. Just because a software update contains no new exciting user features does not mean it is unimportant. These software updates frequently include security patch upgrades that fix bugs left over from the software development process. Many cyber threats have utilized software bugs to gain access to secure systems, much like a virus that uses a compromised immune system to infect a host. To better protect your network system against cyberthreats, require that all connected devices keep up to date on all software updates.
Turn Off Automatic Connection for WiFi-Enabled Devices
To save users from excess cellular data charges, many smartphones are equipped with features that allow a device to identify and connect with public, unsecured WiFi signals automatically. While this sounds convenient, unsecured WiFi networks are an immense cybersecurity threat to these users. Using these signals, cyber threats can easily access information stored on the device or surveil user activity. For the sake of your company’s data security, establish and enforce a protocol that requires that all mobile devices capable of connecting to network databases to have the automatic connection feature turned off.