In 2020, established technological businesses, Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook encouraged workers to work remotely. Understandably, the coronavirus pandemic played a role in that shift. The shift also brought renewed focus on the concept of remote work. According to Gallup, 43% of US employees work remotely. Over the past five years, remote working has increased by 44%, revealing its growth even before the pandemic.For small and medium businesses, remote working is cost-effective and improves the productivity of employees. That’s why it’s unsurprising that 50% of small and medium businesses have adopted the remote working policy in recent years. But cybersecurity-wise, what’re the potential concerns of working from a remote location?
If you’re looking to adopt the remote working policy, read on to understand the pros and cons of remote working from a cybersecurity viewpoint.
What Does it Mean to Work Remotely?
Thanks to digital technology, our default working style is constantly evolving. One such evolution is the remote working model. The model allows your employees to work outside of the traditional office environment. That is, your employees work from home (WFH), or any other preferred location outside of the centralized office space. Remote working helps employers to eliminate geographical and commuting barriers which may affect the productivity of their employees.
To function effectively as a remote worker, the items listed below are necessities:
- A desktop/laptop
- Internet connection (e.g., a portable MiFi or router)
- Mobile devices
- Printers, fax machines, and scanners (depending on your work scope)
- A functional email account
Pros of Remote Working
In case you’re looking to implement the remote working model, listed below are five benefits of remote working that you should know about.
- Flexibility: Working remotely can be summed up in one word; “flexibility”. Remote working offers your employees flexible working hours which consequently helps them to manage their activities and improve their productivity. The flexible working schedule ensures your employees are faced with fewer interruptions that’ll affect their efficiency.
- Productivity: In a FlexJob survey, 51% of respondents working remotely reported an increase in productivity. It isn’t difficult to see why: working remotely offers your employees a better work-life balance, plus it saves tons of commuting-related stress. Also, employees working remotely are more likely to maintain good health. The combination of these factors improves the focus and productivity of your employees.
- It Encourages Bring Your Device (BYOD) Policy: To work successfully from a remote location, you need technological devices to connect to your colleagues. BYOD is a policy that encourages the use of personal devices such as laptops, phones, and other technological devices for work. For small and medium business employers, BYOD policy saves costs on purchasing technological devices. For employees, BYOD allows them to keep up-to-date with the relevant technology which subsequently improves work efficiency. BYOD also improves productivity because it allows employees to use technological devices that are best suited to carry out work duties.
- Access to Talent Pool: Working remotely eliminates the geographical and commuting barriers that hinder work. This is a delight for small and medium business employers because it allows them to employ talents across different geographical locations. The combination of BYOD and the removal of distance barriers mean small and medium employers have unending access to talents to boost business operations.
- Cost-Effectiveness: Remote working facilitates cost-effectiveness for small and medium business owners. With BYOD etched in the inner fabrics of remote working, it saves you a few squids on maintaining and installing technological devices and cybersecurity systems. As an employer, remote work also helps you to save costs on taxes, overhead costs, and utility bills.
Cons of Remote Working
Yes, working in a borderless flexible system increases cost-effectiveness and employee productivity. But what are the cybersecurity implications of remote working? Listed below are four cons of working remotely:
- High Cybersecurity Risks: One demerit of a borderless working system is that you can’t monitor the security of the devices and networks your employees use. Remote working makes your employees use unsecured personal devices and networks and could potentially increase the vulnerability of your network system. A 2018-report from the Wifi company, iPass, revealed that mobile workers were either the cause of a security breach or were the recipient of a data breach.
- Lack of Data Backup Plan: Another downside of the BYOD policy common to remote workers is the lack of separation between personal and business data on working devices. In cases of theft, loss, or intrusion of data via personal devices, business data are also affected
- Lack of Compliance to Data Regulations: Small and business owners often employ freelancers or remote staff with little IT knowledge. As a result, it makes compliance to data regulatory bodies such as General Data Protection (GDPR) difficult due to ignorance about the policies.
- Phishing Attack: Phishers prey on unsecured networks and devices. Remote workers are likely to use unsecured networks. This explains why small and medium businesses are often the recipients of phishing attacks
Cybersecurity Remote Working Tips
This section addresses simple cybersecurity tips that’ll help you to avoid cybersecurity breaches while working remotely.
1. Cybersecurity Training
The security of your business is as good as the cybersecurity knowledge base of your employees. Ensure to organize pieces of training, whether physically or virtually, for your remote workers to keep them abreast with the technicalities of cybersecurity.
2. Enforce Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and Multi-factor Authenticators (MFA)
VPNs encrypt your internet traffic and help you to establish a secured connection while using public networks. MFAs add an extra layer of security to your devices and accounts.
3. Backup and Recovery Plans
Sometimes, data exfiltration is inevitable, but having backup and recovery plans will help you restore your data without fuss.
Either in the form of working from home or telecommuting, remote working is a big boost for small and medium business owners. The cost-saving perks of remote working make it tantalizing for small and medium employers. But amidst the benefits, it’s easy to de-prioritize cybersecurity solutions.
That’s why NW Technologies is here— to help you install and maintain cybersecurity solutions on your devices and networks. Our services cut across the following areas:
- Data recovery
- Data encryption
- Risk Management
- Incident Planning