Even though countries are starting to open up their borders for the growth of the economy, there are still businesses that remain the same. Their operations do still require that their employees stay from home or work remotely.
Remote employees or workers and freelancers have been around since the pandemic. It has increased tremendously due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the US, freelancers have grown to almost two million from 2019 to 2020. That is an 8% increase.
But as the number of freelancers and remote employees increases, the risk of data exposure and breaches becomes prevalent. The sudden shift in working habits has left employers unprepared. They have failed to train their employees or save money to invest in a security software program.
As the number of threats increases, employers shouldn’t hesitate to provide training and tools to keep their data safe. Even though you aren’t prepared, know that it is not too late to implement policies to secure your business.
In this article, we will provide ways your freelancers or remote employees can keep your business data safe from data breaches.
Create a Cybersecurity Policy
Even though the operation has already started to shift from work from home setting or you are starting to employ freelancers, you’ll need to begin your cybersecurity policy.
Your cybersecurity policy will help your employee be aware of what to do and the consequences of not protecting your business data.
Most employees don’t know the consequences of their actions. They are not even aware that data security is something to be concerned about. In fact, employees’ negligence is one of the reasons why data breaches occur.
Do not assume that your employees know everything.
First, ask your employees to read and sign the company’s policy regarding cybersecurity. It should cover the policy content, rules employees must comply with, and all the tools that will be provided for their employees.
Cybersecurity policy does help employees and employers meet in the middle. They’ll know what is needed to be done to keep data safe.
Secure Internet Connection
Most freelancers and remote employees don’t often work in the comfort of their homes. Usually, others travel while working. It means relying on public and unsecured Wi-Fi connections.
Using an unsecured Wi-Fi network can expose a company’s data. Often, hackers hide around free internet connections, as they are aware of how people like to connect to such. Anyone using a free network can expose their data to hackers. Internet criminals can see and read everything shared online, even accessing confidential data and accounts.
Provide your employees with a Virtual Private Network or VPN tool. VPNs can encrypt the traffic that’s being shared on the server. Whenever your remote employees try to connect to a public Wi-Fi with a VPN, hackers will not see the data.
But remember that not all VPNs are good enough to secure your data. You’ll need to find one that will suit your business’s needs. There are plenty of VPNs you can use, like AVG VPN, HMA, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and more.
Review what VPN can keep your data safe and won’t risk exposing your data.
Create Strong Passwords
Ask your employees to create complicated passwords for their company accounts. Passwords are crucial in keeping data and accounts safe from possible attacks. In fact, a brute force attack is the first thing cyber criminals do to steal data. They either guess the password or use a tool that can decipher it.
The best way to prevent hackers from getting to know the password is to create a complicated one.
Complex passwords can take months or even years for hackers to guess.
Educate your employees on how they can create their passwords. Whether they are accessing customer data or filing documents, every password must be complicated.
Tips when creating a secure password:
- Use a combination of upper and lower cases
- Add numbers in between the letters
- Use special symbols
- Don’t use personal information
- Avoid recycling and sharing password
- Make sure it’s not a word that exists in a dictionary
- Must be longer than 14 characters
Update passwords regularly or whenever an employee leaves the company.
Activate Two-factor Authentication
After creating a secure password, make sure that the two-factor activation or 2FA security is activated.
2FA is a security solution available on most accounts. It’s a second step a person needs to get through before accessing the account. 2FA can be a PIN code sent via email or text, or it can be a biometric measure like a fingerprint.
Using a 2FA solution can prevent hackers from further gaining access to your company’s data. Even though they have deciphered the password, 2FA will prevent them from further accessing the account.
Use Encryption Method
Encryption software is valuable to protect the company’s data. It can keep devices safe from threats by securing the information when it is stolen or lost. It prevents unauthorized users from opening and looking at the content.
Furthermore, you’ll need to use encryption for files like PDF. Even messaging apps and email can be encrypted. Since most attacks start from emails, it is valuable to encrypt the content. Therefore, the encryption method matters.
Software updates are crucial as they patch vulnerabilities on the software and system. It will prevent hackers from finding a way to gain entry to steal data.
Developers roll out updates of their software to protect it from hackers. That’s why employers should inform their employees to update their software if any is available.
Use an Antivirus Software
Businesses should protect their data by using business antivirus software. Antivirus software is endpoint protection that secures businesses and individuals from attacks.
Since most businesses experience malware attacks, it is vital to keep them safe from threats. Antivirus can scan the system and check on vulnerabilities and threats.
Most security solutions work proactively in the background to detect if there is a presence of a threat. Furthermore, antivirus software comes with other security features like a password manager, email filter, firewall, and more.
Some business antivirus software programs within the budget are Kaspersky Small Office, AVG Antivirus Business edition, and Bitdefender Gravityzone Business Security.
Make sure to read about the features they provide. Also, find out what your business needs to protect and how much data should be kept safe from hackers.
Remote workers use their devices to manage business data, although some businesses provide laptops to their employees. If your remote employees use their computers, inform them that they should only access business data using a single device.
Using different devices to access business information and accounts can increase the risk of data breaches.
Cloud backup and other services are the most used software by businesses that hire remote employees. Employees can share files and collaborate with cloud-based software.
Part of a business’s security plan is to back up every data for security. Inform your employees to do so.
Data backup will help whenever threats or ransomware attacks happen. It will prevent businesses from temporarily putting their operation at a stop.
Learn About Phishing
Email phishing is the most common method used by hackers to access accounts and devices. They’ll send a legitimate email from a reputable company. If the employee clicks on the link, it will lead to a phishing website.
Any information the employee input on that website will be taken by the hacker.
Learning how to spot a phishing email can be helpful. Employees will avoid clicking on links or downloading anything from the email.
Remember that email is not the only source of phishing attacks. Learn about them to keep your data safe from such threats.
Evaluate Software Used
Track all the software that your business uses. Check it individually if it is set to private or it has been encrypted.
Sometimes employees are not sure that the software they are using was set into public while adding confidential data into it. Make it private to prevent other unauthorized individuals from seeing the content.
Have a Cybersecurity Training
Since negligence from employees is the most common cause of data breaches, start training your employees. Training your employees will make a difference. They’ll know what to do in case a threat happens. Furthermore, your employees’ knowledge can save your business from threats. They’ll be able to prevent it by only doing the right thing when handling business data.
Although not all of the practices mentioned can guarantee 100% protection, implementing them is still the only option. Remote employees are outside of the business premises. Employers cannot control most of what their employees do. But they can still give policies that remote employees or freelancers can follow to make sure business data won’t be seen or stolen.