Keenan Blog

Managing Cyber Security with Remote Workers

May 19, 2020

Many of us successfully adapted to remote working situations during the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, we still face security threats that take advantage of the same technology tools we use to stay connected. You may have noticed an increase in unsolicited emails, from claiming virus cures and protective devices, to offers of assistance with federal stimulus payments and unemployment applications. Interconnectivity between coworkers at home may be more susceptible to hacking than the networks operating within the walls of company offices.

During this crisis, cybersecurity threats have multiplied exponentially, requiring increased vigilance against attacks on both system software and hardware, and human vulnerabilities using social engineering. As this period continues, it will be critical to maintain consistent communication about cybersecurity risks with all remote workers and to provide timely updates on new threats that are identified. Organization policies about computer security and protocols need to be reinforced and employees should be able to safely submit any suspicious emails, texts or other activity they question for evaluation.

To help ensure the integrity of company data bases, sensitive information and mission-critical applications, remote workers should only access such resources through a virtual private network (VPN). The exchange of data in a VPN is strongly encrypted to prevent anyone unauthorized from being able to read or steal it. VPNs are password-protected and often require multi-factor authentication for logging in to the network. Employees should be trained on the proper use of the VPN and how to protect their access credentials from being compromised.

While workers are out of the office, it is vital to maintain all software updates and virus protection patches for preventing cyber intrusion. There may be some logistical challenges to this because of the way workers connect. Accessing email and certain files from home may not involve logging into network resources that would be required to update software. Usually they will need to connect through the VPN to securely receive systems updates. Notify all employees when these updates are pushed to their computers or other company devices and make sure they know any user actions they must take to stay up to date. You should also require employees to periodically change their passwords, using guidelines for creating strong passwords.

It’s regrettable that there are unscrupulous individuals and organizations that use the situation to take advantage of people during a crisis. They know that the emotional toll and financial insecurity during a time of disaster can cloud people’s judgment and they seem to know exactly how to play on fear. By equipping employees with current, reliable information about the scams out there, along with training them to question the legitimacy of unexpected electronic communications, the great majority of cyber threats to your operations and your employees’ livelihoods can be avoided.

About Brad Keenan
Brad Keenan enjoys spending time with his wife and dog and being in the sun whenever possible. If not with his family he can usually be found on the golf course or at the beach.