The COVID-19 pandemic unleashed a new wave of cyberattacks. With more and more people working from home, it became easy for hackers to access sensitive data. The reasons are a serious lack of security measures and the absence of a sound remote work policy in businesses.
To protect your company from cyber threats and avoid unfortunate downtime, it’s important to design a foolproof remote work policy.
What is Remote Work Policy?
A remote work policy is an agreement that describes how employees can work from a location other than the office. It includes remote work guidelines, best practices, and legal rights of remote workers.
Many companies allow several employees to start working remotely to “test the waters” and create a sound policy. However, the current situation warrants immediate actions.
Basic elements included in the remote work policy are:
- General expectations
- Online data security
- Workplace security
- Access rights to sensitive company-owner information
- Working hours
- Rules for off-site work
- Compensation and benefits
- Office equipment and workspace arrangement (what to be provided by the company and what should be arranged by the worker)
- Covered expenses
- Liability and worker’s compensation (policies that include injuries at home while working)
- Methods of communications
- Goals and milestones
Depending on the industry and duration of remote work, some of the above points may be adjusted to create a custom remote work policy.
How to Design a Remote Work Policy to Prevent Data Breaches
While policies differ for each company, the key steps are the same.
1. Figure Out How Employees Can Work Remotely
You need to evaluate each role and position to determine how each employee can work from home. This may take some adjustments to responsibilities and expectations. While software developers usually have an easy time working remotely, accountants and HR specialists may have a tougher time adjusting.
That’s why you should work out clear guidelines for each position to make the transition as smooth as possible. Important things to consider are:
- Tools and resources needed by each employee to work remotely.
- Supervision and management of remote workers
When you outline remote work, you need to pay special attention to access restrictions. Each employee should only have access to the tools and information necessary to fulfill their goals. The rest must be blocked.
While you may have allowed free access to the majority of information in the safe office environment, remote work is drastically different. At home, people are more relaxed about security. They forget to lock down devices, fail to set up strong passwords, skip updates, and more.
2. Provide Secure Tools for Remote Work
Even if you already had a BYOD policy in place, many employees need other tools to work from home efficiently. You may need to provide equipment, such as printers, second monitors, and scanners for the work to continue as usual.
If it’s impossible to supply all employees with the necessary hardware, extra equipment may need to be purchased. Alternatively, you could cover part of the expenses and leave the rest to the worker.
Communication tools are highly important for remote workers. Be it video-conferencing software, time-management apps or project management programs, you need to make sure employees can access them and have time to adjust.
All software provided to workers should be secure. It must have high-quality passwords and smart access restrictions.
3. Adjust Security Measures
Special attention should be paid to cybersecurity. For remote employees, you should try to implement the same security measures you use at work.
- Antivirus software – all computers used for remote work must have fully updated reliable security solutions.
- Updates – all programs and operating systems must be updated timely. Cybercriminals find loopholes in the software and try to access them. Updates close these loopholes. Failing to update timely increases the risk of being hacked.
- Strong passwords – all passwords for accessing sensitive data and work apps must be set according to strict guidelines. Wi-Fi access at remote locations must be encrypted.
- Public Wi-Fi networks – clear regulations about working with public Wi-Fi networks must exist. If such work is allowed, it should be done via a VPN only.
- Corporate services – encourage employees to use corporate services for email, messaging, conferences, and other work whenever possible.
- Public places – employees must know which places are suitable for working and communicating with team members. For example, discussing sensitive information in a public place is out of the question.
While all the above guidelines should be part of the policy, you need to designate a manager to supervise the implementation.
4. Work out a Disaster Plan
All employees need to understand what must be done in case a security breach occurs. Each worker should know:
- What to do
- Who is involved in dealing with the attack
- Which external groups to contact
It’s important to practice implementing the plan several times to make sure everyone knows their part. By acting quickly, you can minimize the effect of a cybersecurity attack or block a data breach entirely.
5. Educate Your Employees about Risks
No matter how hard you try to keep information safe, many breaches occur due to human errors. While designing a remote work policy, you should pay special attention to educating your employees about risks associated with carelessness, such as weak passwords, public Wi-Fi, missed updates, etc.
Stress the importance of reporting any security-related incidents immediately.
6. Simplify Smooth Implementation
The key to the success of your remote work policy is smooth implementation. Employees who have never worked remotely before can have a tough time adjusting. Besides educating them thoroughly, you can take the following actions:
- Establish daily check-ins – designate a manager to check in on each employee daily to answer questions and monitor security-related activities.
- Provide communication technologies – ensure the availability of secure communication tools and check if the employee understands how to use them.
- Offer encouragement – a sudden switch to remote operation can be hard psychologically. Make sure you support the employees during the transition. Listen to their concern and mitigate stress whenever possible.
Beefing Up Your Security with a Remote Work Policy
While security isn’t the only part of remote work policy, it’s the most important one. Pay special attention to the tools you offer your employees, their understanding of the situation, and smooth implementation.
One of the highly effective tools to prevent security breaches while working remotely is Shred Cube. Contact us to find out the details today.