Data Security Threats with a Remote Workforce


December 22, 2020

Remote workers cover many job areas, from data entry to graphics designers, HR personnel, management, and nearly every job in between. Your sales force can be remote as well, with the freedom to connect with more potential customers and a wider sales field. With each remote worker, however, comes potential cyber threats that you must include in your overall comprehensive IT strategy. What are the most common data security threats with a remote workforce?

Securing a remote workforce means protecting your business from these threats: 

Personal Use of Company Issued Equipment 

When you issue computers, laptops, cell phones, and other devices to your remote workers they may use the equipment for personal reasons. A break from work might involve a quick check of personal email, social media, or even a browsing session or online shopping. Their work-issued cell phone will be closer to them than their personal phone, and they may even text or email using this device. 

Pro Tip for Data Security Threats with a Remote Workforce: Keep data safe with a remote workforce by implementing a “no play” policy on company-issued devices. Tweak your Acceptable Use Policy for your remote workforce to ensure compliance to your office rules while workers are working from home.

Leaving Work Issued Equipment Unsecured 

Your remote employees may not think about security. After all, they are in a “safe” space, so security isn’t at the front of their minds. They may bypass security features, leave their devices unattended in a car or coffee shop, or leave the device signed into the company network when not working. 

Pro Tip for Data Security Threats with a Remote Workforce: Require frequent sign-ins, including password re-entry, whenever the device is inactive. 

Using Personal Equipment for Work  

Your work-issued devices may be different from what your remote workforce is used to using. It’s tempting to download work-related software, applications, and data onto personal devices. Since most personal devices do not contain the high-level security features your on-site devices do, this could lead to a data breach. Part of securing your remote workforce will be auditing devices and making sure the employee is using work-issued equipment. 

For workers choosing to use their own equipment, you can adjust your BYOD policy to meet new challenges.

Need help creating a new BYOD policy? Check out our free, ready to use BYOD template and create your own.

Pro Tip for Data Security Threats with a Remote Workforce: Discourage work use of personal devices by assigning devices closest to what the employee currently uses and making these devices user-friendly. 

Using Public Wi-Fi: Big Data Security Threats with a Remote Workforce

One of the perks of working remotely is the ability to take your work with you wherever you go. Most buildings have public Wi-Fi, either unsecured or offering free passwords for customers and clients to use. Your remote workforce may start their morning at a coffee shop, stop at the library for research, or stay connected while picking their kids up from school before working in an airport while waiting for their plane to take them to their hotel, where they may continue to work. Each public Wi-Fi they connect to is a potential data breach in the making. Many of these offices, shops, hotels, and restaurants do not routinely change passwords. Once a hacker has the password, he or she can continue to gather information from unsuspecting patrons for months at a time. 

Pro Tip for Data Security Threats with a Remote Workforce: Securing a remote workforce includes adding additional security levels, such as encryption or a VPN. It may be helpful to offer a hotspot feature on mobile phones and devices so your employees are consistently using a safe Wi-Fi connection. 

Remote Workers May Procrastinate when Installing Updates and Patches 

Those warnings and alerts can become so annoying, employees may disable them altogether. There never seems to be a “right time” to stop working and let the computer patch or update security software. 

Pro Tip for Data Security Threats with a Remote Workforce: Make sure warnings and alerts cannot be bypassed or disabled. Plan for these patches to automatically update after midnight when the employee is least likely to be on the device. 

Data Security with a Remote Workforce Doesn’t Have to be Complicated  

Integris knows a few things about remote workforces. We have several remote teams ourselves. When it comes to data security threats with a remote workforce, Integris has the answers you need. 

We have the solutions to keep your data safe with a remote workforce. Let Integris help you develop strategies to protect your small to medium-sized business from potential data breaches from your valuable remote employees. 

For a limited time, Integris is offering a one-hour consultation with a free dark web scan, a value of over $690. Schedule your appointment and chat with a specialist today.

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