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How to create a security-first culture with remote teams

If recent global events have increased the number of remote workers in your firm, you now face even more security difficulties for your already overburdened security teams and busy IT departments. Sixty-one percent of CISOs are more concerned about security risks aimed at employees than they were before COVID, due in part to employees working remotely.

It is vital that all employees, both remote and on-site, understand the benefits of following company-wide security requirements as well as the risks of failing to do so, even if they are working from the apparent safety of their dining table. While there are various components to following best practices, the most crucial is educating remote workers on how to avoid data breaches.

Simple everyday habits, such as clicking on a link or opening an email attachment, might expose you to security dangers. Remote workers face a very serious threat from compromised accounts that have been taken over by cyber attackers. Everyone in your firm should understand the basic strategies used by malevolent hackers, as well as the repercussions of disregarding them.

Malicious social engineering, such as phishing for malware propagation, is a common concern. The initial steps in reducing security risk are to develop a security document and to adopt a wide policy stating that security is everyone’s responsibility. These are critical steps in making cybersecurity a company-wide and collaborative effort.


Failure to educate is never an excuse

Employees should perform a security awareness exercise in your working-from-home group security practice (ideally upon onboarding, but with frequent reminders). This might be as simple as seeing an internally developed slide deck/video or being asked to read a standardized text, followed by a short quiz to check comprehension.

Everyone must embrace security awareness and the necessity of security. This exercise should explain the security obligations that you expect your employees to meet. To communicate clearly, use simple plain language and avoid acronyms and technical jargon.


Security by default is actively promoted

Employees should not have to constantly worry about adhering to best practices, even with the best education and 100% adoption – best practices should be easy for them. Security, while a worry, is not their job; it is up to the corporate IT security team to champion the correct hardware, software, and systems so that others may do their jobs with the least amount of interruption and with the greatest level of safety.

To gain easy network access, our colleagues should already have the necessary anti-virus software and multi-factor authentication procedures in place. They should have a simple VPN and a strong password management system. Devices should be standardized and optimized (ideally). These aren’t issues they should be concerned about.

Passwords that are unique, strong, and compliant should be required. Poor passwords are responsible for four out of every five enterprise security breaches. It is vital to change them on a regular basis and to set high criteria for password naming practices. Companies frequently blacklist common password choices, but there must be a balance between productivity and security best practices.

Passwords should be long (to help prevent brute force attacks), strong (a mix of letters, digits, and symbols), avoid any personal information (15% of individuals use their pet’s name as a password), and changed frequently (at least every 3-months). Personal accounts are significantly more vulnerable to compromise, although 53 percent of users admit to using the same password for personal and professional accounts, implying that unique passwords are essential in the workplace. Most people believe they are significantly better than they are at online security.

As an alternative to multiple passwords, you may want to consider a single sign-on system or password synchronization, and limit access of individuals only to the data they need to do their jobs using a suitable database security tool – it’s possible to grant different levels of permissions to users, with assisted permissions detection for ease of implementation, based on the level of visibility each user requires.

Using an authorization and authentication strategy – leveraging best practices and historical data to determine which user accounts and business applications should have access to sensitive data. Adopting a “zero trust” policy is a continuous policy of “never trust, always verify” with the goal of securing all people and all devices, wherever, at any time.


Make time to deal with the significant issues

Unpatched vulnerabilities account for one-third of all security breaches. It’s critical to equip every system or company remote device with antivirus software, spam filtering tools, firewall software, and so on, but it’s also critical for an IT security team to keep such systems up to date, which includes frequently updating any network security systems.

Simply said, this is the work of an IT security team, and neglecting (or failing to handle) possible threats and changes in cybersecurity, including critical patching, can put your business at risk. It’s you and your team versus the world’s terrible actors.

It will also be the IT security team’s role to answer queries, put minds at ease, provide a seamless transition path, and demonstrate best practices and the risks of not following them. Staff education and getting everyone, across all departments and disciplines, on board with the idea that security is everyone’s responsibility is critical to the effective adoption of remote working security best practices.