Monday, 29 May 2023 23:42

Top Steps For Securing Remote Access To Employees on the Portal

By  Walter

The Popularity of Remote Working. Is It Here To Stay?

No one saw it coming. Instead, remote working arrived unannounced and caught businesses and companies unawares. Companies had to adjust fast to implement what seemed like the new working normal. And the new normal seemed to have one resounding sentiment "adjust or perish." 

A few months since the Covid-19 pandemic brought the remote working landscape, companies started reaping its benefits. Indeed, the remote working landscape has attracted many researchers' attention. Previous research reports and study reports highlight remote work's popularity and benefits. Here are a few highlights:

  • 75% of remote workers say they increased productivity while working from home than at respective workstations (Boston Consulting Group)
  • By 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers (Upwork)
  • 74% of companies plan to shift some of their employees to remote working permanently (Gartner)

As you notice, the future of remote working is so luminous. Remote working is here to stay and endure in perpetuity.

Remote Working Security and Its Implications

Hackers and cyber attackers are usually quick to leverage prevailing situations to conduct mysterious attacks, and the remote working situation was no different. According to a study by Alliance Virtual Offices, remote working increases the frequency of cyberattacks by 238%.

Statista survey conducted among IT professionals shows that 64% of IT professionals believe it is essential to have adequate cybersecurity measures when dealing with a remote workforce. But it is not about knowing that you need to secure your remote workforce. Instead, it is about knowing that you need to secure the remote workforce and the measures to use to secure your remote workforce. 

Measures to Secure Remote Access for Employees

This section will take you through some of the most surefire tips and measures you can use to secure remote access to employees on your company intranet.

  1. Use Various Security Tools and infrastructure

You should use several tools and security infrastructure to boost your remote access security. The following are some of the tools to use:

  • SSL Certificates- If you are running a portal where employees interact by exchanging data, you have no choice but to buy and install an SSL certificate on the website. You can buy Sectigo SSL Certificates to secure your site. Sectigo is one of the best certificate authorities worldwide. The SSL certificate will help to establish encrypted sessions, thereby concealing the data exchanged between employees. 
  • Firewall- A firewall is another appropriate security tool you must have to protect your workforce against harmful traffic. The firewall filters all incoming and outgoing traffic and prevents dangerous traffic from reaching your workforce.
  • Virtual Private Network- A VPN creates a secure tunnel that allows only encrypted data to pass through during internet communication. We will discuss more VPNs later. 
  1. Develop A Robust Cybersecurity Policy for All Remote Workers

Establishing a strict and robust cybersecurity policy is necessary to secure remote access to employees. The policy should stipulate all guidelines that dictate various aspects of cybersecurity, both at the workplace at remote locations. In addition, the policy should touch on multiple elements such as the ones explained herein:

  • The Use of BYODs and Company-owned Devices- Employees should be required only to use company-owned devices as a best security practice. They should avoid using their personal devices since they tend to be more insecure. The policy should state strict punishments for employees who go against this guideline. Usually, company devices come fitted with the necessary security infrastructure and are more secure than personal devices.
  • Regular Backup- The policy should mandate remote workers to conduct regular data backups. The policy should also state where the backup files should be stored. For example, cloud storages and hard drives are preferred locations for storing backup data.
  • Third-party Vendors- The policy should extend to third-party vendors. Previous attack cases show that third-party vendors can inadvertently be the weak links that cause security breaches to your remote workforce.

Such and many more policies should apply to all your remote workers. They will establish a safe working environment and help protect remote workers from cybersecurity risks.

  1. Choose a Secure Remote Access Software

There are three main techniques for securing online work when telecommunicating. Whichever method you take, ensure you implement the applicable security practices. First, let us look at the three techniques.

  • Using A Virtual Private Network- You might have heard of virtual private networks. They are so popular these days because of their relevance in remote access. VPNs encrypt data to create a secure connection for remote access. A Tunnelling protocol is used when encrypting and decrypting the data. Remote workers will use virtual private network software to connect to their company's VPN gateway. 
  • Desktop Sharing- Desktop sharing is a remote PC access method that allows connecting a remote computer to a host computer from a secondary location. This setup allows the operator to access a local computer plus all files held therein as if the computer were physically in the office. However, although this technique has great benefits, its downside is that it opens up more endpoints for unauthorized access. Therefore, encrypting all firewalls to combat potential risks would be a great idea.
  • Direct Application Access- With this technique, employees can work within individual applications on a specific network instead of employees accessing an entire network. This access technique presents the least risk.
  1. Enforce Best Password Practices

Passwords are the cornerstone of cybersecurity. Therefore, part of your cybersecurity policy should require all employees to implement robust and unique passwords. Here are some characteristics of the best passwords that your remote workforce should implement. 

  • Passwords should be long enough- Your remote workers should be encouraged to use not less than eight characters when creating passwords.
  • You should encourage your remote workforce to use unique passwords for every account. Using a single password across all passwords could easily jeopardize all accounts.
  • Remote workers should use password managers and tools.
  • They should change their passwords frequently. 
  • Best passwords for storing passwords should also be encouraged. Employees should be encouraged to memorize passwords instead of writing them on pieces of paper or storing them in web browsers.
  1. Employ Two-factor Authentication

Passwords alone can never be enough to secure remote work. There have been instances in the past where attackers have succeeded in bypassing passwords. Instead, they use various attacks, such as brute force and dictionary attacks, to get past the passwords. The best strategy is to use a two-factor authentication mechanism to bolster authentication security. 

Two-factor authentication is where other than using passwords, your remote workforce use an extra authentication factor such as a one-time password, biometric authentication, or a one-time password. Only the account owner has access to the second authentication factor, which denies attackers the ability to access the account. So even if they pass the password, they will still not infiltrate the account.

  1. Employ the Least Privilege Principle

Limiting the privileges of your remote workers is an excellent way of protecting your workforce against remote access vulnerabilities. Not all employees should be allowed to access every file and resource on your company network. Remote workers should only be granted access to files and networks necessary to fulfill their job descriptions. Giving remote workers too much freedom opens your network to attackers and insider threats.

  1. Cybersecurity Training

There is no way a remote workforce will learn about cybersecurity unless you train them. A cybersecurity training and awareness program exposes your employees to the best security measures. You can use the training program to enlighten the remote workforce on the various forms of attacks that they might face and the best way to deal with them. In addition, the cybersecurity training program can be an excellent platform to warn malicious employees against engaging in insider threats. Conducting the cybersecurity training and awareness program at least once yearly would be great.

In Conclusion 

Remote access is here to stay. It is an excellent business strategy since it can help save on office space and minimize many other expenses. Nevertheless it is too vulnerable to security threats. Therefore, knowing some of the best tips and measures you can use to protect your remote workforce against cybersecurity attacks is essential. This article has explained some of the best steps for securing remote access to employees on your intranet.

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