Remote work has become an increasingly popular way of working in recent years. This shift in how work is done has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as many businesses have had to shift to remote work to comply with social distancing measures.
While remote work presents many business benefits, it also poses unique threats to cybersecurity and company resilience. Nonetheless, if managed appropriately, remote work can also boost cybersecurity and resilience for businesses.
This article will explore the benefits of remote work for cybersecurity and resilience and provide tips on how businesses can ensure their remote work practices are secure and resilient.
Benefits of Remote Work for Cybersecurity
Strengthening Data Protection
In-office working arrangements tend to be less secure compared to remote work. This is because there is less control over who has access to sensitive information and less awareness of the physical security of data.
When working remotely, a virtual private network (VPN) can improve data protection by creating a secure connection between the employee and the office network. Encrypted communication channels like WhatsApp, Telegram, among others, can also facilitate secure communications while workers are accessing sensitive data.
Additionally, by requiring employees to use only company-issued devices when working remotely, businesses can improve their cybersecurity posture. This ensures that the devices used for remote work are up-to-date with security measures such as antivirus software, firewalls, and software patches.
Reducing Social Engineering-related Threats
Social engineering attacks are often conducted via phone calls, emails or instant messaging, and can be difficult to detect, especially if the attacker has acquired some information about the user.
Working from home reduces the frequency of such attacks because attackers are not sure who is interacting with work devices or the extent of access that employees have.
To reduce social engineering threats, companies should provide regular reminders about threats and the importance of staying vigilant to emails or messages with unfamiliar links. Additionally, regular phishing simulations could help highlight the risks of social engineering attacks and teach employees how to respond.
Accessing Enterprises’ Best Cybersecurity Tools
Remote work grants security teams the chance to use the latest security measures for their company. The latest security tools require cloud-based solutions that cater to remote working environments.
Security teams can make use of tools like endpoint detection and response (EDR) software, cloud-based antivirus protection, and intrusion detection systems (IDS). Such tools are available from security vendors that specialize in enterprise security measures and are specifically designed for remote workers.
Expanding the Security Team’s Workforce
Remote working arrangements enable businesses to recruit talent from around the world while still maintaining the necessary cybersecurity posture for the company. This later reduces the burden of protecting a remote workforce because the company has access to cybersecurity experts globally.
Additionally, this expanded workforce pool allows for flexibility in work schedules and arrangements because the company can leverage the expertise of various time-zones.
Benefits of Remote Work for Resilience
Flexibility in Business Continuity Planning (BCP)
Resilience in business means having the ability to absorb impact and still function. According to Harvard Business Review, businesses that have flexible BCP that allows for remote work can maintain productivity in the face of adversity, like pandemics or natural disasters.
With a remote work strategy, businesses have agility in their BCP, which provides an opportunity to continue operations if the workplace is disrupted. For instance, in 2020, companies that had a robust remote work policy continued to operate at full capacity even as the COVID-19 pandemic caused other companies to shutter.
Reduced Dependence on Fixed Locations
In the past, companies set priority on specific physical locations in which physical resources like data centers, servers, and the workforce should be situated.
Such configurations could take long to recover if the location faced a crisis like natural disasters or cyber-attacks. With remote work, some companies are migrating their systems to cloud-based platforms, allowing access to resources from any location.
Moreover, a decentralized system requires little direct contact, which means there’s a lower threat of viral outbreaks and employee downtime.
Increased Employee Productivity & Job Satisfaction
Remote work can significantly improve employee job satisfaction and productivity. According to a study by Owl Labs, remote workers report a much higher level of happiness than on-site workers, with fewer distractions and reduced commuting time.
The same report shows that employees, on average, work 2.5 days more a month than their in-office peers. This increased productivity translates into better business outcomes, with employees working longer hours often producing higher quality work in less time.
Tips for Ensuring Secure and Resilient Remote Work
Implement a Comprehensive Security Policy
Ensure that all employees that work remotely have a clear security policy that outlines security best practices and expectations.
This policy should include guidelines on how to handle sensitive data, how to safely communicate with colleagues, and how to report cybersecurity incidents. Additionally, security training should be provided to all employees to create a culture of cybersecurity awareness.
Invest in Security Technology
Deploy security technologies like firewalls, endpoint protection, and VPNs to secure remote access to company data and protect against external threats.
Investing in cloud-based solutions also enhances resilience by reducing dependence on physical locations and enabling access to resources from any location.
Conduct Regular Security Audits
Regular security audits can help detect threats and vulnerabilities before they are exploited by attackers. They also provide critical data that can be used to improve cybersecurity strategy and protect against future threats.
Ensure Regular Backups of Data
Regular backups of company data are critical in maintaining resilience. Back up data so that it can be restored in the event of an attack or natural disaster. Backups can be cloud-based or physical.
Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
MFA involves the use of two or more factors before granting access to a system. It ensures an extra layer of protection since it’s harder for attackers to impair it, even with stolen passwords.
The world of work has been affected by a volatile 2020. Remote work is no longer an experiment but a common and accepted way of working. As cybersecurity, business continuity planning, and resilience become top organizational priorities, remote work provides the necessary flexibility and agility that business needs to navigate the unforeseen future.
With the right infrastructure and security measures, remote work can create significant benefits for businesses. Ultimately, the benefits of remote work extend beyond the company’s ability to adapt to unforeseen changes. They also include happy employees who maintain an improved work-life balance.
Businesses should take the necessary steps to ensure their remote work practices are both secure and resilient to external threats. By doing so, they join the many businesses taking advantage of remote work’s flexibility and agility. In the post-COVID-19 environment, remote work is seen as a necessity for businesses to remain competitive, boost employee satisfaction, and enhance productivity.