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13 Effective Factors That Can Help Secure A Remote Work Environment

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In 2020, tech teams in organizations across the globe rose to the challenge of quickly, and with little warning, setting up the means to allow their fellow team members to work from home. All signs point to remote and hybrid work arrangements being here to stay; now that the initial scramble to set up workable arrangements has passed, tech leaders have more time to consider and develop more secure remote working environments. 

It’s important for companies to establish systems that not only give their remote employees reliable, easy access to needed tools and data but that also secure those essential assets. So how can tech teams know that their organization’s remote work environment supports both productivity and robust cybersecurity? Below, 13 tech experts from Forbes Technology Council share effective factors that can help you secure your remote work environment.

1. An Access-Management Review

Every organization should audit its access management and controls. Have you created a roadmap to put multifactor authentication in place for all of your business apps? MFA is not a luxury anymore; it’s a necessity. Do you have written roles-based access policies for user groups? Dive into any emergency access that was put in place over the last couple of years within the cloud platforms hosting your business-critical apps. – Ian McShane, Arctic Wolf

2. A VPN

Effective cybersecurity starts with the employer. Employers must set up actionable processes to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks, including installing antivirus software and establishing internet surfing protocols. One critical factor that improves remote security is requiring employees to use a VPN while using work devices. Employees’ traffic is encrypted, making it harder to sustain an attack. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC

3. AI-Powered Data Transfer Infrastructure

We’ve already seen success through communicating regularly with remote teams and normalizing a VPN-enabled work environment. What’s immediately required is to set up a secure, seamless, future-proof infrastructure to avoid leakage of sensitive information or intellectual property. The potential of artificial intelligence in identifying malicious trends in data transfer is enormous—AI’s role to secure cloud workspace can’t be ignored. – Shubham Mishra, Pyxis One

4. Cloud-Native Technologies

To establish a secure remote working environment, organizations that haven’t already fully shifted to the cloud need to make the leap. When you arm your security team with fully cloud-native technologies, they can move faster and see more, which allows them to handle the proliferation of endpoints and user data brought on by the new hybrid work model. – Marc van Zadelhoff, Devo

5. Zero-Trust Network Access

While VPNs were once the go-to for securing remote access to on-premises applications, they’re now widely thought to impair the user experience — they can hinder productivity and grant excessive access, which violates zero-trust principles. Instead, zero-trust network access should be implemented to grant least-privileged access and provide other enhanced protections. Additionally, cloud-based solutions optimize performance. – Anurag Kahol, Bitglass

6. Separate Corporate SSIDs

Today, many organizations require employees to install VPN clients on their devices and connect to a corporate server. Instead, enterprises should provide employees with a residential gateway so that they have a separate corporate service set identifier; all work-related traffic should be funneled through that SSID to the corporate server. This removes the need for installing VPNs on devices and allows the admin to control the gateway in a manner that’s on par with established corporate standards. – Ritesh Mukherjee, Reliance Jio

7. Process Automation

Security in a remote environment requires diligence and attention to detail, which is achieved through automation. For example, automating employee onboarding and offboarding ensures that when an employee leaves, access to systems is revoked and their equipment is returned. Similarly, for a security incident, routing actionable alerts to Slack or Teams reduces critical response times. Process automation is the key to better remote security. – Bhaskar Roy, Workato

8. Security Feedback Mechanisms

To ensure your environment’s continued security, you must always prepare for change. An organization’s priorities, business and consumer technology, and threat landscape constantly evolve. Invest in feedback mechanisms for every security policy or control you implement, and make regular plans to review and adapt. This approach makes organizations most resilient and pragmatic about their security efforts. – Ilia Sotnikov, Netwrix

9. Human Risk Management

Enterprises must have a way to gauge the risk humans pose to their cybersecurity posture. Even with all the technology that’s available to prevent cyberattacks, they still happen, and often the point of vulnerability is a person who wasn’t adequately trained to spot or report a threat. Businesses must not only improve training but also have a way to measure its effectiveness, and that’s where human risk management becomes critical. – Ashley Rose, Living Security

10. A Ban On BYOD

Set up an account for purchasing hardware and software to prevent people from using their personal devices. Underpowered hardware will undermine your security if employees choose to use their more current personal devices, and insufficient software for remote workstyles will lead people to use free tools from outside your secure ecosystem. – Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket

11. A Lifecycle Governance Policy

At the core of any secure remote working environment is a detailed lifecycle governance policy. Such a policy outlines a company’s approach to protecting information stored in a collaboration platform from insider threats by controlling how information is accessed, used and shared by end users. Consistent lifecycle management for every project can help tighten security and build a productive environment. – John Case, Unify Square

12. Regular Audits Of Team Members’ Systems

Make sure you do audits on each team member’s system. Make sure there’s nothing out of place, software is updated and there are valid scanners to prevent malware, viruses and trojan horses. You may also want to make sure a reporting system is in place to flag any oddities in your VPN network. Most of all, build trust—these audits should not be seen as a breach of privacy but as a way for team members to feel at ease knowing their systems are secure. – WaiJe Coler, InfoTracer

13. Effective Cybersecurity Training And Assistance

The weakest point in any network is social engineering. Teaching people good principles for password management and preventing spearfishing is substantially more effective than most technologies. However, taking away as much of the difficulty surrounding cyber hygiene from your employees as possible gives them time to focus on actual priorities. – Noah Mitsuhashi,

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