5 Important Security Considerations With Remote Teams
By Juan Perez
Ten years ago, working from home was still a rare, and usually unrealistic dream.
Now, it’s been reported that 16% of companies hire remotely exclusively.
Suffices to say we’ve transitioned to a system where remote working is a bigger and bigger part of the reality of collaborative work.
However, if you’re working with a remote team, you may find that there are some security aspects you need to consider.
Remote working can present more risks than you think, so it’s important to be aware of all the potential issues and how you can protect yourself and your team members against them.
- Browsing security
The risk: Browsing should hopefully always be secure, but that’s not always the case. In fact, if you’re not using a VPN, there are several entities that will have access to your data.
That includes internet service providers, governments, and even hackers.
Some may feel that because they do not have anything to hide, there is no need for them to protect their data from whoever might be lurking.
However, the information they steal can be related to your identity and be used for ads and statistics and other things you did not consent to.
The fix: A VPN is the best way to protect yourself against this type of covert surveillance.
It encrypts your activity so that it won’t be visible and accessible to third-party entities interested in stealing your information.
That way, you can navigate to any pages you want and your activity will not be tracked.
- Device security
The risk: When your team is remote, the thing is that you can’t be in charge of their devices or check to see how they’re handling security. Freelancers and remote workers often choose to work from coffee shops, parks, airports, or other public places.
They may turn their back on their device, leave it unattended to go for a smoke break, to get more coffee, or to take a work call.
That is ample time for someone to steal their device, or just access it to steal important information that can compromise company security.
The fix: The security measure to take, here, is to ensure that the devices team members use are all secured through passwords or PINs, at the very least.
However, there are even more effective security measures, such as fingerprint scanning, retina scanning, or face recognition software.
If you want these security measures to be implemented by all your team members, you may need to supply them with the devices that support this type of software.
That is a worthwhile investment because it ensures that you don’t need to worry about the physical safety of the devices.
- Anti-virus & anti-malware software
The risk: Unfortunately, as incredible and useful as the internet can be, it’s also a vast space where all kinds of dangers are lurking. There are malicious entities who are just waiting to infect your device with software that can compromise your information or even the device itself.
Anyone of your team members can stumble upon compromising programs such as viruses or malware.
At best, they will slow their device down. At worst, they can lock their device down and steal the information on it and hold it for ransom.
Either way, the risk is significant and you must ward against it.
The fix: Thankfully, this is a pretty easy fix where prevention is key. All you need to do is make sure that all your team members’ devices are equipped with a high-quality anti-virus and anti-malware software.
What this does is protect the device from malicious software.
At any point that someone stumbles upon a page that is unsafe or trying to download something dangerous, the anti-virus flags the threat and isolates.
That prevents it from infecting anything important on the device or compromise files.
Again, this may require an investment on your part to purchase the necessary software, but it’s well worth it.
- Wi-Fi security
The risk: When freelancers and remote workers do choose to work outside the home or the office, they typically need to use the internet. The problem is that Wi-Fi networks are often not secure.
And that free Wi-Fi is very tempting, but also very dangerous.
You see, because there is no security, anyone can be there lurking on the network. Any information one sends over this channel is accessible to anyone.
That includes login information, passwords, etc.
We don’t need to point out how easily that could lead to compromising important data for your company, sensitive files, etc.
The fix: The solution to this is for remote workers to only connect to secure Wi-Fi networks.
For example, they can ask for the password at a secure network at a coffee shop or airport, etc.
The other option is to travel with their own internet source. You can pay for data on your phone or computer.
Using the data on your phone is super easy – you just need to set up a hot spot and then connect your laptop to it.
- Storage security
The risk: When it comes to data storage, people are rarely bothered about ensuring security, unfortunately.That’s partly because they don’t even realize that their data can be easily compromised.
So, they’ll keep files on their computers, or on CDs that are just lying around.
However, CDs can not only be stolen, but they can also deteriorate, especially if they’re left in direct sunlight, or scratched.
As for files kept on a regular hard drive, unless it’s encrypted, it can very easily be compromised.
Not to mention how easy it is to steal a laptop or destroy it, thus taking all your important data with it.
The fix: There are plenty of ways in which you can ensure that important files and sensitive information are all stored securely by team members.
Cloud storage is easily accessible and offers a lot of space to upload all of your data. That is by far the best solution for shared data or data that can compromise the company
In addition, remote workers may also opt to store data on USB drives they keep in a safe place, or an encrypted hard drive.
That way, even if someone were to get their hands on it, there would be no way to actually get the information they are after.
Collaborating with a remote team can certainly be convenient for everyone involved.
However, it can also be a pain in the rear when it comes to security.
There are all kinds of things you need to be mindful of when it comes to the safety of remote teams, but thankfully, the risks can be mitigated.
It’s just a matter of being aware of the risks involved and knowing how to ward against them.
From equipping your team members with special software, such as anti-viruses or VPNs to teaching them the importance of encryption, you can certainly help prevent security issues, even when collaborating remotely.