Working from home isn’t a new concept, but it’s becoming more desirable for employees looking for a better work-life balance. It’s estimated that about 16 percent of the global workforce works from home.
Thanks to the shift in virtual work due to the pandemic, many companies have started to make working from home a more viable option for current and potential employees. But with that flexibility comes great responsibility: Ensuring a secure remote workspace.
Working from the corner coffee shop on public Wi-Fi? Or sharing the same Wi-Fi connection as houseguests? Leaving your computer unlocked when stepping away to run an errand? All are big no-nos in the remote workspace.
With more business taking place online, firms must practice remote workspace security. We’ll take a look at how this works and cover the requirements that should be found in a remote work policy, why firms must implement consistent security training and what to look for when using third-party vendors for conducting business.
With larger numbers of employees working remotely, your firm must take steps to ensure data security in remote environments, and that starts with implementing a standardized remote work policy. The policy should outline the requirements for working from home (or remotely) and any required network security tools needed to detect and prevent unauthorized access or data breaches.
A remote work policy can have several stipulations, but we’ve narrowed down the four most important requirements for firms to include.
While this list is certainly not exhaustive, having a remote work policy that outlines security requirements keeps employees accountable and—most importantly—provides a remote workspace focused on diminishing security risks. Make sure all employees, including remote workers and in-office staff, agree to and sign the policy.
While creating and implementing a remote work policy is a great first line of defense, employees tend to become complacent when it comes to security. The best way to combat that complacency is to require continuous security training. Ensuring that employees are on high alert to potential cyberattacks should be top of mind.
Security training platforms like KnowBe4 provide ongoing security training, including simulated phishing, vishing and smishing attacks, to keep workers conscious and vigilant of possible threats. Employees who fail simulated attacks must go through additional lessons to maintain good standing regarding the protection of sensitive data.
Continued security training ensures that employees are always attentive and aware of possible attacks against your firm. It also keeps your entire firm updated with new forms of cyber threats. Remember that an entire network can be compromised by one lackadaisical employee clicking on a link in an email.
As a firm with access to personal and financial information, you must take precautions to protect and secure data. Learning how to spot malicious intent from outsiders will dramatically reduce security threats. And don’t forget—your firm can use continued security training as a selling point to clients that you take the necessary steps to safeguard their data, regardless of where your employees are working.
Firms can’t only concentrate on remote workstation security. You must also ensure that any third-party vendors that work with your firm have security protocols in place as well. Do they use data encryption when integrating with other applications within your tech stack? How do they protect your client’s data? Do they have processes in place if a security breach occurs?
Most business takes place in the cloud these days. And while there’s no 100% guarantee that the vendors you work with will carry zero risk, there are some questions you can ask when vetting a third-party vendor, such as:
It’s okay to be selective—your firm’s data (and your clients’) must be safeguarded. Keep in mind that third-party vendor security isn’t just the vendor’s responsibility; it’s also your firm’s responsibility to monitor and conduct regular security audits to ensure there’s been no unauthorized access to sensitive data.
One click in a phishing email. That’s all it takes for one employee to allow hackers access to your firm’s sensitive data.
It’s important to stay vigilant when it comes to security, which is why firms must implement a remote work policy, invest in regular security training for all staff, and take the time to research and vet potential (and current) third-party vendors.
Your clients trust you with their data—it’s up to you to protect it.
For more information on workspace security, download our Security Essentials eBook today!
Please complete the following:
Rootworks members can now use an early access version of Insights, which delivers customer segmentation and pricing data as well as reports for your firm and clients. Connection to QuickBooks Online is required for firms and/or clients.