More companies are beginning to see the benefits of remote teams of employees. Allowing employees to work remotely gives employees freedom and companies flexibility, but it also creates cybersecurity risks.

Companies with remote teams must take extra care to make sure that both company data and the personal data of employees is protected from hackers. It is not working remotely itself that creates risk, but the lack of policies and equipment in place to deal with employees outside the office. 

Tips to Keep Your Remote Workers' Data Protected

  1. Educate employees — It doesn’t matter how good a company’s cybersecurity is if employees don’t understand risks. Cybersecurity should be a regular part of employee training, with employees understanding the basic risks and common scams. Remote employees should also receive training on the steps they need to take to protect data outside the office like special equipment and authentication software.
  2. Require the use of company equipment — Employees who work remotely might feel tempted to use their own computers or other equipment. This should not be allowed as personal computers may not have the same security protocols as company laptops. The only way to ensure that data is safe is to standardize the security software and protocols across all company equipment.
  3. Use a VPN — A virtual private network, or VPN, creates a secure network for data to travel in and out of a computer. Employees using a wifi network outside of the office should always use a VPN to connect to company databases or file sharing networks. The VPN will ensure that hackers can’t break into those files by using the same wifi network.
  4. Require a mobile hotspot — Even with a VPN, some public wifi networks can still allow hackers to access files on a computer. Using a mobile hotspot with a password gives employees a secure, private network no matter where they are. If remote employees work a lot in public areas, a mobile hotspot is a much more secure option than public wifi at coffee shops or hotels.
  5. Security software — Company equipment should have firewalls, antivirus software, and malware protection installed. These basic pieces of software keep out hackers and help prevent the download of malicious software or viruses. This software should be a part of a larger security protocol put together by the IT department. Using this software should be covered in employee cybersecurity training.
  6. Manage passwords and verification — A password manager can regularly change and keep track of passwords for remote employees. Using this software keeps employees from writing their passwords down or carelessly storing them somewhere where they can easily be found. Using two-step verification—which requires a code sent to a cell phone in addition to a password—can also keep data safe even if a hacker manages to get a hold of a password or an employee’s device.
  7. Backup in the cloud — When employees work remotely, it’s important that their work still gets stored in the company’s databases and servers. Backing up to the cloud ensures that the data and work employees generate away from the office makes its ways to company hands as quickly as possible.

Remote workers don’t have to be a security liability.