May 14, 2020

Computer Security Best Practices for Working Remotely

Computer Security Best Practices for Working Remotely | SalesGig

The COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic has forced more businesses to begin working remotely than ever before.  With millions more Americans working remotely and new cyber security threats, business owners are wondering how to keep their business secure while working remotely.  With leadership experienced in web security, SalesGig offers up some computer security best practices for working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even without the coronavirus forcing us to work from home, there are likely still instances you or your employees will conduct business from their home computer or mobile devices. For instance, responding to emails while on vacation or working while away on a business trip.  By understanding your options and working with a qualified IT professional, you can mitigate any risk and keep your business protected.  

So, how do you keep security when employees work remotely?

1.      Establish and maintain a company cyber security policy that includes remote working.

2.      Ensure ALL internet connections are secure as sensitive information could be compromised through an unsecure/unsafe Wi-Fi connection.

3.      Use strong passwords to access company information.

4.      Rely on two-factor authentication and other encryption methods.

5.      Create a separate, external network dedicated solely to remote access.

6.      Implement privileges/access, the same as you would on your regular network.

7.      Firewalls, Antivirus, Anti-Malware - Oh, My!

It is possible to work from home securely and following those seven steps puts you on the path to success. Let’s look a little closer at each of those.


Establish a Company Policy Governing Cyber Security

The first step to ensuring the cyber security of your business is to ensure that you have thorough cybersecurity policy in place for your company AND that your policy includes information on remote work.  You should require all new and existing employees to review and sign the policy, regardless of whether they work remotely or in the office.  The policy should contain information covering what is expected of them as well as how the company will support them in complying (i.e. what resources and/or tools will you provide them?).


Ensure ALL Internet Connections Are Secure

Who can resist the lure of working at a local coffee shop, drinking specialty coffee, and connecting to their free, UNSECURED Wi-Fi to get some work done?  Well, at least for the moment that’s not something you have to worry about with the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic closing most restaurants and coffee shops.  Many users aren’t aware of just WHY it can be bad to use those unsecured networks, so education is key.

One of the best things you can do (in addition to providing appropriate education and training on cyber security) is to require employees to use a virtual private network (VPN). Using the VPN before signing into an unsecure Wi-Fi connection encrypts internet traffic and monitors for signs of infection.

Password Security

It can be difficult to keep track of multiple passwords so many end up using the same two or three passwords for everything.  Provide password training to your employees guiding them on what constitutes a strong password and explain why they shouldn’t use the same password over and over. If possible, require employees to change their password every 90 days and require strong passwords.

Two Factor Authentication & Other Encryption Methods

Many organizations have begun requiring two-factor authentication (2FA) to login to company networks. No longer does signing in with just your username and password suffice, but rather confirm the employee’s identity by asking a “secret question” or perhaps a PIN that is sent to their cell phone. Passwords can be stolen or hacked into - especially if you’re using the same password over and over - but having 2FA provides an added layer of security and reduces the risk of a data breach.

Some other encryption methods to consider would be installing encryption software. Encryption software protects employer data because if an employee’s device is stolen or lost, it bars access from unauthorized users of those devices.  Additionally, applications such as email or chat should include end-to-end encryption.

Create a Separate External Network for Remote Work

To some, this may seem overboard.  However, having a separate external network dedicated solely to remote access can prevent a catastrophic infection.  Picture this: Despite best intentions, a virus has made its way to your server.  As the virus infects that server, it can either end at that server OR continue its infectious path of horror to infect your company as a whole.  With millions more Americans teleworking, the cyber threat has only increased and adding this layer of protection is one way you as the employer can protect from your business from a catastrophe.

Restrict Access; Implement Privileges

Restricting the number of people who have access to sensitive information can also help prevent a data breach.  This is valuable advice for not just remote working, but in general.  Implementing accurate and reasonable controls can provide two-fold benefits: 1) it keeps employees from accessing data they shouldn’t have access to and 2) if an employee’s device or password is compromised, it keeps cyber criminals from infiltrating your entire network.  Plus, does the newest employee (or even one who has been there longer) need access to the same information as the CEO?

Firewalls, Antivirus, Anti-Malware - Oh, My!

While they may not seem as important as lions, tigers, or bears, these are some very important computer security best practices that shouldn’t be ignored.  If you’re allowing your employees to work remotely, you should require your employees to have up-to-date firewalls, antivirus software and anti-malware on all of their devices - including cell phones and other mobile devices, not just their desktop and laptops.  Ensure that if you are going to require this that it is outlined in your workplace policy. This may also be a time in which you’ll need to help your employee through either training, IT support or by providing the necessary software.


What do computer security and the modern home have in common?  Computer security and the modern home have technology in common.  Computer security is ever evolving with new technology - as are our modern homes.  With smart homes growing in popularity, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the latest technology while not paying proper attention to whether our own router is secure.

A workplace policy and providing training/education to your employees are two of the biggest keys to maintaining cyber security throughout the time spent working remotely.  Include a list of computer security best practices while working remotely to your employees so that they can ensure they’re doing everything in their power to also protect company data.  This can help the organization as a whole feel confident in their computer security measures.


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