By thinkon

As organizations are starting to get the green light to bring employees back into the office, not all are eager to return into their old seats so soon.

Remote work has become the ‘new normal’ in light of COVID-19, and workplace experts predict organizations will continue relying on remote workers after the pandemic has passed, claiming that 25-30% of the workforce will be working remotely multiple days a week by the end of 2021.

Remote work presents a multitude of security challenges that IT departments must combat to ensure data protection and compliance are upheld. As businesses transformed into a work-from-home model seemingly overnight, those without the IT infrastructure required to manage a dispersed and remote workforce were left flat-footed, scrambling to enforce data protection for remote workers.

Developing a long-term data security strategy is critical to ensure business continuity post-pandemic. Here are 4 simple best practices will help you implement an ironclad data protection plan for remote workers.

1. Create a secure connection

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a simple and effective method for extending an organization’s internal network outside of the office without compromising security by establishing a secure tunnel that anonymizes and encrypts data.

Using a VPN, remote workers can securely send, receive, and share company data, whether at home or in a public space, allowing for greater workspace flexibility without jeopardizing data protection.

Another option is to set up a virtual desktop infrastructure. As more organizations are opting for cloud technologies to enable the remote workforce, virtual desktops replace the need to deploy, manage and secure endpoints like mobiles, tablets and laptops etc. as it is all centrally managed rather than being handled individually. In addition to this, it is more secure and protected as all the data is located in one location.

2. Manage permissions and data access to mitigate risk

Providing remote workers with access to the resources and tools they need to do their jobs is the key to efficiency outside of the office. This is the overarching goal of Identity and Access Management (IAM).

IAM is a foundational security component that reduces the risk associated with data loss and unauthorized access by limiting users’ access to only the data and systems required to complete their job. A company can implement a strong information security model by deploying a segregated approach to resources and permissions. In the case of a security breach, IAM minimizes the blast radius of the incident.

3. Introduce an additional layer of easy-to-use security

A simple username and password combination is no longer sufficient to safeguard vulnerable company data. As cyber-attacks become increasingly sophisticated, data protection for remote workers must also evolve. Introducing multi-factor authentication (MFA) balances security and encryption with ease-of-use, and adoption is likely to be high as many employees are familiar with how to use it in their day-to-day. An MFA and SSO hybrid will allow remote workers to easily access the different software and systems they need while layering an additional level of security to obtain the most sensitive data.

4. Review and enforce remote work policies

Businesses with some degree of remote work available before the pandemic likely have remote work policies in place. With new functions now performed out of the office, companies can take the opportunity to review and refine remote work policies and provide additional training to employees. Human error presents the largest risk to data protection, so remote workers must be aware of best practices to keep company information secure.

These stressful and uncertain times continue as businesses are forced to evaluate and adapt their IT infrastructure to accommodate an unforeseen shift to remote work. ThinkOn can help ease this process by providing security and data protection solutions to safeguard your company data and move your employees into the new era of remote work.