As more and more organizations embrace the remote work trend, it’s important to keep security top of mind. The world of work has changed, and with it, the way we think about how we keep our networks and users safe from viruses, malware, and other threats.
Protecting your business starts with common sense. With that in mind, here are 10 ways to keep your remote endpoints secure.
Use a secure remote desktop protocol
A remote desktop protocol (RDP) is a software application that allows you to remotely control another computer. RDPs are often used by IT professionals to help troubleshoot issues on a remote computer. However, they can also be used by attackers to gain access to a victim’s machine. To avoid this, make sure you’re only using an RDP from a trusted source, and never connect to an untrusted RDP.
Keep your operating system and software updated
At the very least, you should patch your systems regularly with the latest security updates. By definition, these contain fixes for newly discovered security vulnerabilities.
Many attacks target unpatched systems. By keeping your software updated, you’re making it significantly more difficult for attackers to take control of your endpoint.
Configure a firewall
A firewall acts as a barrier between your computer and the rest of the internet — it only allows traffic explicitly permitted by the administrator. This can be a valuable line of defense against many types of intrusions, including malware infections and denial-of-service attacks.
Install antivirus software
Antivirus software works by scanning your computer for known viruses and malware, then either quarantining or removing infected files. While no antivirus program is 100% effective, using one can significantly reduce your risk of infection.
Be sure to keep your antivirus software updated, as new viruses are constantly being created.
Don’t download attachments from untrustworthy sources
Email attachments are one of the most common ways viruses and malware are spread. If you receive an email with an attachment from someone you don’t know — or if the email seems suspicious — don’t download it. The same goes for files shared via instant messaging or social media.
Use a VPN
A VPN (virtual private network) encrypts all the traffic between your computer and the VPN server, making it much more difficult for anyone to snoop on your activities or steal sensitive data.
This is especially important if you’re using public Wi-Fi, as it can be relatively easy for someone to set up a fake hotspot and collect data from anyone who connects.
Avoid clicking on links in emails or instant messages
Links in emails and instant messages are often used to spread viruses and malware. If you receive an email or message from someone you don’t know, or that seems suspicious, don’t click on any links. If you’re not sure whether a link is safe, hover over it with your mouse (but don’t click!) to see where it’s going to take you.
The reason you want to avoid clicking on links that you don’t recognize or fully trust is that they are the primary means by which cybercriminals execute phishing attacks. These are attempts to trick you into giving up sensitive information like your login credentials or bank account details. These attacks often take the form of emails or messages that appear to be from a legitimate source but are actually from an attacker.
To avoid falling for a phishing attack, be wary of any emails or messages that ask you to click on a link or download an attachment. If you’re not sure whether an email is legitimate, you can try hovering over the sender’s name to see if you recognize the address. If you see a name or email address that looks legitimate, but the nature of the email or the request seems bizarre to you, always proceed with caution.
Rely on strong passwords
Using strong passwords is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your accounts secure. A strong password should be at least eight characters long and contain a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using easily guessed words like “password” or your name, and don’t reuse passwords across multiple accounts.
To this end, it is often worthwhile to encourage remote workers to use both a password randomizer and a manager so that they only need to remember one password.
Enable two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security that requires you to enter a code in addition to your password when logging into an account. The code is typically sent to your phone via text message or generated by an app, and it’s valid for only a short period. This makes it much harder for someone to hack into your account, even if they have your password.
Educate employees on the cyber threats they will be exposed to
One of the most important things you can do to keep your network secure is to educate your employees about cybersecurity threats. Teach them how to spot phishing emails, avoid clicking on links from untrustworthy sources, and use strong passwords. You should also have a policy in place for what to do if they suspect they’ve been hacked.
Remote work is here to stay, and the more remote endpoints a company adds, the greater the need for security becomes. With a little planning and effort, you can keep your remote endpoints secure and protect your business from harm.
|Sarah Johnson is a tech and business intelligence researcher and writer with a passion for work and the economy. When she is not gathering info for and writing her next piece, she is probably sipping a coffee in her backyard with her dogs.
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