The Impact of Hybrid & Remote on Cybersecurity

As more employees work remotely, businesses need to take additional security measures to safeguard their data. It’s obvious to most people that businesses like financial institutions, legal and accounting firms, healthcare businesses, and companies that support critical infrastructure need to implement sophisticated cybersecurity measures to protect the sensitive data with which they’re entrusted. However, small and medium-sized businesses in all industries are targets for cybercriminals, too. In fact, small businesses can be more attractive to hackers precisely because they’re less likely to have robust cybersecurity in place. 


What makes remote work riskier? 

When employees access your company’s internal systems remotely, several additional risks arise. Away from the office, employees are more likely to use personal devices for work (and vice versa). When the line between personal-use and work devices blurs or disappears, employees may be more likely to let other family members use their devices, access public networks, download non-business-related third-party apps, and generally have a lower level of vigilance about their online security. 


How can I protect my company’s data? 

All businesses should have clear cybersecurity policies and procedures. The increased risks posed by remote work makes this even more important. Review the best practices discussed below. If they’re not yet part of your cybersecurity plan, consider how your business could begin implementing them to better protect its data. 


Create a written cybersecurity plan. 

To protect your company’s data, you must understand its risks and vulnerabilities and identify solutions to minimize them. Once you’ve determined how to best protect your business, it’s important to document the steps that must be taken and share this information with all affected employees. Creating an authoritative resource will help ensure your plan can be faithfully followed. 


Train and re-train all employees. 

A written plan is only as good as your employees’ familiarity with it. Make a review of your company’s cybersecurity policies part of the onboarding process, and provide ongoing training to keep employees up to date on any changes and ensure proper procedures remain fresh in their minds. Cybercriminals are always coming up with new tactics, and regular training gives you the opportunity to alert employees to the latest threats. Employees should be as familiar with your company’s cybersecurity policies and procedures as they are with any other aspect of day-to-day operations.  


Limit third-party apps. 

In recent years, cloud-based apps have become a common way for hackers to target remote employees with malware. Apps allow cybercriminals to evade many protections that have become common in email and web defense systems. Unfortunately, many of the apps used by employees provide substandard security features, leaving users vulnerable to attack. Make sure your cybersecurity policies define what apps are acceptable for downloading on devices that are used to access company systems, and train employees to strictly follow these guidelines. 


Tightly restrict system access. 

Each employee should have access only to the systems they need. To avoid allowing access to any system to anyone who doesn’t need it, make regular permissions review part of your cybersecurity plan. As employees change positions or leave the company, their access should be updated promptly. Additionally, training employees to use strong passwords and enabling multi-factor identification will help ensure that only the individuals you authorize may access company systems via employee devices. 


Web/DNS Filtering 

DNS Filtering is a category of web security solutions that prevent users from accessing unwanted web content.  When enabled, DNS filtering solutions allow admins to prevent users from accessing malicious websites, or any other pages that go against company policies.  Since many employees are no longer protected behind corporate firewalls, it’s important to block malicious web content, prevent phishing attacks and stop users from access inappropriate web content. 


Avoid exposure to public networks. 

When your employees open up their laptops at their favorite coffee shop, they can be exposing your data to hackers. To allow your employees this freedom of movement without the risk, require them to use a virtual private network (VPN) to access company systems. A VPN encrypts data as its transferred between individual devices and the corporate network, providing an added layer of security for off-site workers. It’s important to choose a reliable provider and ensure the VPN is properly configured, however, as a poorly configured VPN can leave your company even more vulnerable to attack. 


Keep devices and software up to date. 

To keep up with cybercriminals, your business needs cutting-edge defenses. Ensure devices are kept up to date with the latest software, including reliable antivirus and anti-malware solutions. Working with a strategic IT consultant can help you identify the solutions that are best suited to your business. 

Pendello Solutions provides fully managed IT services to small and medium-sized businesses. We can help your organization select and implement a cybersecurity solution that’s just right for your needs and budget as well as identify cloud solutions, assist with data backup and recovery, and much more. For more IT insight and tips, browse our blog.