Remote work security is the branch of cybersecurity specifically concerned with protecting corporate data and other assets when people do their jobs outside of a physical office. Employees who work remotely require remote work cybersecurity due to a variety of scenarios, such as when they work from home, travel for business, or when they do their jobs in any location outside of the company’s offices.
Security risks of working remotely
Remote work is an increasingly common paradigm, but traditional IT security approaches have long been perimeter-based, meaning they were primarily concerned with what happens inside of the office and the corporate network.
When users perform their job duties from remote locations such as a home office or airport lounge, the potential security threats increase, because people are accessing corporate data and systems from outside of the corporate perimeter. Remote work security challenges may include:
A remote work security policy is an organization’s documented plan governing all rules and procedures for any employees performing their job duties outside of a company-run office. Such policies typically cover all major components of digital security, including password hygiene, access management, device use, data protection, regulatory compliance, security awareness training, and more.
A comprehensive remote working security policy is a foundational set of best practices for minimizing and mitigating the risks inherent in a remote workforce. In fact, a common reason why some organizations struggle with remote work security is that they neglect to develop and implement such a policy as a distinct piece of their overall digital security.
Remote work security best practices include implementing strong security protocols and technologies for remote access, educating employees on identifying risks and staying safe, and strengthening your general security hygiene (such as strong, frequently changed passwords) even when people aren’t in the office.
Most organizations cannot avoid remote working security risks altogether. Instead, they take proactive steps to manage and minimize risks. These proactive steps usually fall into two overlapping categories:
Tools & Processes
There are several critical technologies to consider for reducing remote work security risks. They include:
People & Culture
Technologies and policies alone cannot completely protect an organization. It is also up to individuals to take steps to ensure they maintain security when they work remotely. Companies can help promote a culture of security in various ways:
One of the most important strategies for remote work security is remote work security awareness—recognizing and acknowledging that security risks exist. That may sound simple, but it is the common denominator in both the technology and the people parts of remote work security. Failing to recognize that there are some inherent security challenges in working remotely increases the likelihood of security incidents occurring. This is particularly true because the use of technology has become second nature to us.
Many people do not understand the difference between going online in the office versus at home, because the experience seems fundamentally the same. A secure remote workforce begins by ensuring that risks are properly identified so companies can put the tools and training in place to mitigate them.
Working from home, in particular, comes with its own specific concerns relative to other remote work security challenges. Here are some useful tips for improving security when people work from home: