How to Encourage Cyber-Security in a Remote or Hybrid Work Environment

Topics: Cyber Liability

Summary: Small businesses are more likely to be targeted by cyber thieves, and those with 500 or fewer employees lose nearly $3 million on average in a data breach. Not only do you need to ensure your network is secure, but you also need to ensure employees are using secure connections in their home office or local coffee shops.

Businesses with 500 or fewer employees stand to lose an average of $2.92 million in a data breach, according to a 2023 IBM report.

On top of this, small businesses are more likely to be targeted by cyber thieves, who believe smaller companies are less likely to keep software updated, have strong cybersecurity practices, and more.

Having a remote or hybrid team complicates the picture even more. Not only do you need to ensure your network is secure, but you also need to ensure employees are using secure connections in their home office or local coffee shops.

Fortunately, with some smart cybersecurity best practices, you can lower the risks of a cyberattack and help your company recover quickly if one happens.

Here are the steps to take.

Automate as Much Security as Possible

A 2020 study found that 88% of data breaches were caused by human error. As a result, the number one way to protect your company is to automate security processes so that human error is less impactful.

For example, there’s software that can scan emails and look for indicators of a phishing attack, prevent employees from opening potentially malicious links, and prevent suspicious emails from arriving in employees’ inboxes.

Also, IT should install antivirus programs, firewalls, and spam filters and ensure that automatic updates are enabled. Security fatigue, which describes when a person is tired of all the threats and stops taking alerts seriously, can happen to IT personnel, too.

A password manager and two-factor authentication are essential. The password manager can maintain strong passwords that employees don’t have to remember, which avoids easy-to-guess passwords that may get compromised. Two-factor authentication can help protect your company if someone’s credentials are compromised so a hacker doesn’t have easy access to your systems.

Finally, if something goes wrong, having automated protection like an automated incident response and account takeover protection can help protect your organization and keep a breach from spreading throughout the company.

Invest in Cyber Insurance

If there is a data breach in your organization, how will you cover the costs of recovery, liability, and more? Unless you have cyber insurance, your organization will have to pay it out of pocket, which may sink the business.

Cyber insurance helps companies cover their own losses from a security incident, as well as offering coverage to any third parties affected, like customers. The policy will help your organization pay for the investigation into the incident, customer notifications, recovery, legal services, and any damages or refunds to customers.

Keep in mind that cyber insurance doesn’t change the need to have robust security protocols — in fact, some policies exclude coverage for cyber attacks where the organization doesn’t have proper security processes. A strong cyber security framework and cyber insurance work together to protect your company.

Educate Employees on Virtual Private Network (VPN) Usage

Not everyone works in a home office all the time. Your employees may decide to work remotely from a coffee shop, library, or other location with a public wifi network.

However, using a public network for work is a security disaster waiting to happen. That’s why your organization should provide a VPN transport layer security and educate employees about when and how to use it.

A VPN allows employees to create a secure connection to your network no matter where they’re working, and it helps protect your organization from security breaches.

Provide Work-Owned Equipment With Security Software Installed

While it may be cheaper to have a bring-your-own-device policy with remote workers, it’s much harder to maintain security. You can make a rule that employees need to have anti-malware software and a firewall, for example, but it’s hard to enforce, and employees may not keep software up to date.

Instead, provide workers with company-owned computers and equipment with all of the necessary security software already installed. Because it’s company-owned, you can set up automatic software updates and monitor the machines for malicious activity.

Train Employees on How to Avoid Common Attacks

Humans are generally the weakest link in the security chain, so that’s where cyber thieves tend to attack — and their methods are getting increasingly complex and believable. The goal of phishing is to steal login credentials, credit card numbers, and other personal information.

Common phishing attacks include:
  • Claiming there’s a problem with the user’s email or software and directing them to a spoof site to “log in” with their credentials
  • A claim that there’s a financial charge or package delivery on the way with an invitation to click a link or call “if there are concerns”
  • Malicious links disguised as legitimate ones (often, when you hover over the link, it shows the real destination)
Training your employees to never go to a website through an email link or call a phone number listed in an email is a great first step. Instead, they should use the name of the company or department supposedly contacting them and go to their website or call them directly.

Keeping everyone updated on the most recent cyberattack strategies and emphasizing the risk to your organization in case of a breach can help your employees take threats seriously and avoid security fatigue that might lead to lapses in behavior.

Protect Your Company and Remote Workforce

Keeping your computer network secure in this era of remote work and widely spread online networks is challenging, but it is possible. The tips above are a great place to start, and you may find specific best practices for your industry as well.

High-quality cyber insurance from AmTrust, combined with excellent security practices, is the one-two combination you need to protect your business. Contact us for a quote today!

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