Cybersecurity Checklist for Remote Workers

Since the beginning of the COVID and the pandemic, most workers have had to move their working environments into their homes. While moving to work from home has its benefits, it also comes with plenty of risks when it comes to the company's sensitive information.

There is always someone who would benefit from a crisis and, in this particular situation, hackers are in high activity.

The biggest risk among all IT security risks is the human element, this added to people working from their usually inadequately protected home networks makes it a perfect treat for hackers who are using this opportunity to attack insecure networks and trick credulous employees in their malware attacks. On top of that, there are many personal activities being carried out online as well, like clothes and grocery shopping, which leaves even more information being shared online than ever before.

Securing a remote worker’s network can present many challenges for businesses. It’s important to ensure that the networks and devices distributed in multiple locations are not only secure but are also able to access company data with ease. This can especially become a challenge if the workers are using their own personal devices, which will deliver a lack of standardization for the IT team providing support.

Here’s a checklist of items you need to go through to make sure the work-from-home environment of your employees is safe.

  • Home Network Security - Steps to follow to secure your remote worker’s network:

  • Ensure that all devices on the home network are protected using WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access II)

  • Adopt a virtual separation to isolate devices into a work-dedicated network segment.

  • Download and install the firmware, updates, upgrades, and patches only from sources you trust.

  • Assure that there is firewall protection in place to protect the network against unauthorized access.

  • Software Patch Management - Critical installation is critical to stop hackers from exploiting known vulnerabilities.

  • Ensure that the personnel’s personal devices only use supported and licensed software.

  • Assure that patches and updates are installed as soon as they’re available.

  • Use an MDM (Mobile Device Management) solution to set up security patches, updating applications, and operating systems.

  • Malware Protection - Phishing attacks related to COVID-19 have been on an upward trend. These attacks use social engineering lures in emails to try and take advantage of the anxiety surrounding the global crisis. While your employees may be well informed about phishing emails in general, these are extraordinary times and even a small slip-up can cause a serious breach. Safeguard against phishing and malware by:

  • Ensuring antivirus and anti-malware software is installed on all of the personal devices.

  • Configuring the anti-malware software to automatically scan and block malicious content.

  • Configuring both the antivirus and the anti-malware software to automatically scan the devices at regular intervals.

  • Enable auto-updates on the antivirus and anti-malware software.

  • User Account Management - Preventing cyber attacks begins with your employees, they are usually the weakest link in your security chain. Therefore, you need to have checks in place that limit the damage in case of a breach happening. Here are some of the best practices:

  • Each remote use should have a unique username, account, and password.

  • Document the licenses of each user account and get them approved.

  • To maintain consistency, use only one standard remote access tool.

  • Give remote access only to authorized users to the critical company resources.

  • Make mandatory the use of VPNs for remote access.

  • IT Policy - A robust IT policy for remote work educates your employees about their role, the tools available, how to act in case of an emergency, etc. A clearly defined complete policy empowers your employees and holds them accountable as well by serving as a guide and providing directions when they’re in doubt about IT operations and security. Some of the best IT Policy practices:

  • Make Two-Factor Authentication mandatory.

  • Educate your employees about the risks in cybersecurity and their vulnerabilities as they work from home.

  • Teach your employees to identify phishing and the steps they need to take in case they get phished.

  • Provide guidelines and a point of contact in case there is a security breach.

  • Make mandatory the use of a standard password manager solution.

  • Make sure regular backups are conducted.

  • When granting file share permissions, keep ‘read-only’ as the default.

  • Filter inbound as well as outbound emails with an email filtering solution.

  • Use mail filters to protect against spam, phishing, and malware.

In most cases, you will stay safe with awareness and caution, make sure to follow the tips we talked about. If you feel that you may have had a breach, or leaked sensitive or financial information, report to your organization and warn them of the problem so they can take the necessary steps.

On the other hand, if it was financial information that leaked, you must contact your bank immediately and close the account that may have been compromised, as well as keeping an eye out for any unexplainable charges made to your account. And if it was passwords, change them immediately.