7 Security Best Practices for Your Remote Teams

Remote teams security best practices

As more and more companies are shifting towards remote work, ensuring the security of sensitive data and confidential information has become a top priority. With remote work, there is an increased risk of security breach and cyber-attack. To mitigate these risks, it is essential to implement robust security measures and consider employee training on security best practices.

Although, there are many benefits of using a remote workforce, such as lowering overhead costs and gaining access to a larger talent pool. However, this trend also opens up more opportunities for cybercriminals to hack into your system and stenal sensitive data.

A cyberattack or security breach can lead to customer loss, brand reputation loss, and productivity/operational loss. In fact, customer attrition rates can increase by as much as 30 percent following a cyberattack or a security breach!

The high cost of cyberattacks is impacting organizations of all sizes, and it’s important to take the right precautions to fence off hackers or any other security breach. This means you need to have a solid incident response plan. Here are some security best practices your distributed team should follow:

1. Develop an incident response plan

Having a well-defined incident response plan is crucial in the event of a security breach. An incident response plan outlines the steps that employees should take in case of a cyberattack or security breach. The plan should include details such as whom to contact, how to contain the breach, and how to communicate the breach to relevant parties. Ensure that your incident response plan is up-to-date and that your employees are trained on the plan.

For example, the plan should describe the steps employees should take when they lose a device with sensitive data, find out that your infrastructure is accessed by an unauthorized user, recognize unusual account activities, or discover a security vulnerability.

You should also have a backup and recovery plan and share it with your distributed team, so they know exactly how to respond in the event of a data breach. This will help you get your system back online as quickly as possible while containing the extent of the breach, so you can minimize costly downtime and unnecessary damages.

2. Enhance endpoint security

When team members use their own equipment to connect to your system remotely, you have to make sure that the devices they use are secure (e.g., computers, smartphones, and tablets).

Make sure you have a comprehensive data security policy, including a BYOD (bring your own device) protocol. To protect data in transit, all connections to your system should be on a secure network and HTTPS platform. Handling email security is a critical part of endpoint management. Encourage employees to use advanced techniques to stop spam emails, whether it’s in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Outlook. Implementing robust spam filters can prevent phishing attacks and reduce exposure to potential malicious content.

Emails should be encrypted, and can be protected with a DMARC policy; and remote desktops should be accessed via a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Namecheap, for example, is a highly affordable VPN that has built a good reputation as a safe and reliable option.

Your employees should have endpoint protection software installed on their devices to protect them from data and identity theft. These include basic antivirus software and firewalls, data recovery as well as advanced software that uses machine learning and behavioral analysis to detect suspicious activities or patterns. Consider using virtual desktop infrastructures for easy distribution and cost management. At the end of the day, preventing security breaches is far less costly than curing it if it happens.

3. Enforce password management

Did you know that weak or stolen passwords account for as much as 80% of attacks? Ensuring that your team members are using strong passwords for logging into your system can help lower the chance of attacks.

Each team member should have his or her unique username and password for accessing your network and software platforms. Also, they should not use the same login credential for sites that they use personally.

If you need to share an account and login credentials for specific sites, use a password manager application (e.g., LastPast.) It allows you to generate strong passwords and store them securely so the entire team can have access.

In addition, most software platforms allow you to add 2-factor authentication (also called 2-step verification) to the login process to ensure that a stolen password alone will not result in an account compromise.

4. Set up access control

With remote employees regularly connecting to your network from various locations, the risk of potential breaches is high. So it’s essential to pay attention to remote access security.

Not everyone on your team needs access to all your business data. Many software platforms and document management systems allow users to set up role-based access control. This enables you to give access privilege only to those who need specific information to perform their job functions.

Setting up cyber and physical access control systems, such as turnstile security, can help minimize the amount of data that criminals can steal even if they hack into your system using one of your team member’s credentials. 

In addition, many of these applications allow you to track who has viewed, edited, or shared what data and from where so you can identify suspicious activities or unusual patterns that could indicate an attack. For instance, you can take action if you see a user logging in from two different locations at the same time.

5. Provide employee training

Human errors and negligence are the major causes of data breaches so make sure your remote workers knows how to protect themselves and your network from prying eyes.

A comprehensive onboarding process is essential, especially for a remote team, to ensure that every team member understands the importance of following your security policy. You should also provide the right IT support to help them implement the steps, such as configuring their devices and setting up VPN services.

You should also perform employee training on how to prevent cybersecurity threats, such as phishing scams, malware, ransomware, and e-skimming. Build ongoing awareness with regular communications on the latest security best practices so they don’t let their guard down.

In addition, implement a comprehensive offboarding process to handle employee separation. For example, it should include a checklist to help ensure that all access privileges are revoked and former employees no longer have access to your systems, network, or sensitive data.

6. Use secure communication channels

Encourage your employees to use secure communication channels such as encrypted messaging apps or virtual private networks (VPNs) when transmitting sensitive data. Also, make sure that your employees are aware of the risks of using unsecured public Wi-Fi networks and encourage them to use VPNs when accessing sensitive information over public Wi-Fi. Last but not least, think of the website provider ensuring you have secure WordPress hosts.

7. Regularly update and patch systems

Keeping systems up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates is crucial in preventing a security breach. Hackers often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain unauthorized access to systems. Ensure that your IT team regularly updates and patches all systems, including laptops, servers, and other devices used by remote workers.

Final Thoughts

Using a distributed team is a great way to save on operating cost but you need to make sure you’re not cutting corners on IT security. You should invest in setting up the right cybersecurity measures and communicate the security protocols to your team. This ensures that the proper steps are followed so you can protect the safety of your business-critical data.

In conclusion, implementing these 7 security best practices and using security tools can go a long way in safeguarding your company’s sensitive data and confidential information. By developing an incident response plan, enhancing endpoint security, enforcing password management, setting up access control, providing employee training, using secure communication channels and regularly updating and patching systems, you can significantly reduce the risk of a security breach.


Matt Shealy

Matt Shealy is the President of Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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