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Remote Worker Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

Small Business Technology Tip - Dave Pelland
Dave Pelland Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Remote Worker Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

Remote Worker Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

With remote working becoming standard operating procedure for many small businesses, maintaining the security of those devices and connections is increasingly important. Whether it’s team members working from home or contractors performing project work, more small businesses need to provide remote access to their applications, networks and data — without compromising security.

With planning and implementing careful measures, small businesses and their workers can get work done, regardless of everyone’s location, without creating undue risk.

Cloud Security

By their nature, cloud applications support team members logging in from anywhere to access critical business tools such as email, customer relationship management, financial management, collaboration and other key systems your company depends on.

While cloud providers typically deploy robust security measures, you can help protect your vital data by mandating the use of strong passwords and two-factor authentication (described below) to access your cloud accounts.

Consider the use of a password management app that generates and stores strong passwords, such as a seemingly random string of characters that offer a higher degree of security by being challenging to guess with automated hacking tools.

Choose Devices Carefully

An important choice in maintaining your company’s security posture is deciding whether team members will use company-owned devices or their own computers and mobile devices to access your data and tools.

Allowing workers to use their own devices, such as using a tablet or smart phone from outside their home or workspace, offers them the most flexibility.

In contrast, though, requiring the use of company devices can offer additional protections, such as the separation of company and personal data on those devices. Other potential advantages of company-owned machines include the capability to remotely erase data on a company-owned device that is lost or stolen, or to requiring the encryption of data on a company-owned laptop so it can’t be accessed if the laptop goes missing.

If your company relies on cloud applications for its operations, Chromebooks offer an affordable alternative to full-featured laptops and the ability to disable their operations merely by changing a user’s password.

Multi-Factor Authentication

In addition to requiring the use of strong passwords, two-factor authentication offers an additional layer of protection for your cloud services accounts by sending a code, typically as a text message, that users enter as they access a site.

This method offers additional protection against the use of weak passwords, or passwords that are re-used on a variety of online accounts, by reducing the possibility that a hacker (especially one in a different country) would have an authorized user’s log-in ID, password and mobile phone at the same time.

Secure Wi-Fi

With more remote workers taking advantage of public Wi-Fi networks, it’s important to consider requiring the use of virtual private network (VPN) software to help protect your company’s data.

VPN software creates a direct data “tunnel” between the user’s device and the cloud service they’re accessing, which prevents a hacker from eavesdropping on the connection to steal the user’s access credentials or customer data during the user’s session. Data traveling back and forth through a VPN connection is encrypted, making that connection secure (unlike the typical unencrypted public Wi-Fi connection).

With these measures in place, you can help protect your vital data while ensuring the efficiency of your remote operations.

Read other business articles by Dave

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