Managing workplace safety for remote employees

By Special Guest
Alex Mitchell
November 27, 2018

In the last decade, remote working systems have been welcomed in more organizations to encourage flexibility amongst other reasons, and the percentage of employees that telecommuting has been steadily increasing.

These remote working systems allow employees to work from their preferred location outside the office and the problem of managing such employees may result. Even with remote employees, it is important to ensure that the standards and security of an organization are not compromised.

To address the extra concerns that may arise because of the remote location of some employees, it is important for managers and HR personnel to adopt certain measures. These measures which include searching for the best VPN services are highlighted in this article.

Password security

With remote employees, password security requires much more emphasis than with employees that show up at the office daily. Thus, the importance of ensuring the safety of every work-related password should be emphasized.

Points of strong emphasis should include the use of strong passwords that cannot be easily predicted by cybercriminals. Passwords that can be easily predicted include those with the user's personal details such as name and birthdays. Proper storage of passwords should also be emphasized. Passwords could also be stored in a central password manager which should also be properly secured. The passwords should also be updated regularly to ensure improved security.

Security of work devices

Depending on the location from which a remote employee works, their work devices could be accessed by unauthorized parties, and emphasis should be laid on the importance of protecting work devices from such parties.

This may involve the implementation of screen lock for work computers to prevent such unauthorized access whether from family members or flatmates. Unauthorized access could compromise the security of sensitive company information, and remote employees should be sensitized on the importance of keeping their work devices away from unauthorized access.

Work devices can also be made less obvious by avoiding the use of company logos as wallpapers as well as the use of company stickers. If a remote employee decides to work from a coffee shop for a day, for example, the company sticker or logo will give them away as employees of the organizations. Hackers tend to know the habits and mistakes which remote employees could make and capitalize on these vulnerabilities as much as possible.

The security of work-related devices also extends to portable devices such as USB drives which must be well protected because such devices are targeted by cybercriminals. If a file has to be in a USB drive for a period that extends up to a week, a form of encryption should be put on this file. These USB drives should also not be branded ones which will draw more attention, especially when used in public spaces.

As regards the security of work devices, it is also important to ensure that the applications on every work device are the latest and most secure versions. Updates of applications are regularly released to prevent security breaches, and these apps should be updated on work devices as soon as they are available. Cybercriminals may take advantage of the loopholes which have been fixed in the updated version to access work devices.

Remote employees should also be encouraged to disable connections such as Bluetooth when they are not in use as a hacker can access a work device through such connection. Once a cybercriminal has targeted a remote employee, they will seek every means of stealing information from the employees and the connection that was left on may just be the means.

Online security

Remote employees constantly need to access the Internet and emphasizing the importance of enhancing online privacy and security with tools and devices which include a VPN. When the traffic data of a remote employee is protected with a VPN, communications become secure and online activities become anonymous. 

The use of a VPN also ensures that the employee can maintain uninterrupted communications with the server of the organization even when they change locations as some remote employees tend to do over time. A VPN on all work devices is also a necessity because of those moments when an employee needs to use public Wi-Fi, although the use of public Wi-Fi without a VPN should be strongly discouraged.

Managers should recommend or provide the best VPN services for remote employees as the security of company data strongly depends on the use of a strong and efficient VPN.

Information security

Information sharing by remote employees should be made as secured as possible. The implementation of measures such as using a strong VPN and avoiding the use of public computers and Wi-Fi is necessary to achieve information security.

Remote employees should be made aware of how their activities could jeopardize the security of company data. Remote employees should also be empowered on how to prevent security breaches to achieve workplace safety.

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