Employees have become used to working away from the office. Now, they operate at different times and can use devices not officially used in formal offices. This shift to remote working means enhanced productivity and happier employees. It also encourages better teamwork for people who work in different locations.
Businesses also reap the benefits with much reduced operational expenses. It’s also comforting for entrepreneurs to know their businesses will keep chugging along even during natural disasters like extraordinary floods or pandemics.
But control becomes difficult when more devices and people use your company network. This is especially true for entrepreneurs and smaller companies with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. Allowing workers remote access to your company files poses significant cybersecurity risks unless you employ a company-wide remote access VPN.
Every company, large or small, should establish a robust remote access policy, preferably before disaster strikes. Taking action ahead of time can stop big problems and make it easier to control the risk of random people getting their hands on your company’s files and data via an unprotected remote connection.
What Is Remote Access Control and Why Do You Need to Implement It?
People can use the internet to connect to a computer or network from anywhere. They don’t have to brave the daily commute to be in the office at a certain time. However, if they use unsecured, unencrypted internet connections, your network becomes vulnerable to intruders. To keep private files safe, employees should always use safety tools like VPNs or specialized software.
A startup without a dedicated IT department may find it challenging to keep track of what devices and internet connections employees use. This lack of visibility increases the risk of attackers accessing a remote device, connecting to corporate assets, and infiltrating the company system.
What Are the Risks of Unguarded Access to Your Company Files?
People from outside can get into your company network and take your proprietary data, your customers’ data, your personal information, and your company’s financial information. They can use this to empty bank accounts, tank your credit ratings, infiltrate your client base, or hold your business to ransom. Even inexperienced hackers can access your company’s systems by exploiting weak connections or devices to steal passwords and gain unauthorized entry.
Three of the biggest threats are:
- Compromised connections, i.e. unencrypted internet connections
- Phishing or social engineering attacks aimed at stealing people’s logins and sensitive information
- Reuse of the same password for different accounts and corporate systems
How Can a Remote Access Policy Make Your Business More Secure?
A remote access policy sets the rules for employees who want to work from home (or their local coffee shop). It regulates which users may connect, what they’re allowed to access, and what devices they can use. It also clarifies how the company will provide cybersecurity for remote users and what the employees should do to ensure compliance.
12 Rules You Should Include in Your Remote Access Policy
You should explain to employees how to establish secure connections and how they should protect the company’s data. You should also stipulate what disciplinary actions you may take in case of violations. Here is what you should keep in mind:
- Who may access your company files? Define who should be given access to the company’s files.
- Which connection methods are they allowed to use? Specify the expectation of data encryption during transit and at rest on an employee’s local device.
- Which equipment may be used? For example, older modems and public WiFi connections have poor cybersecurity standards and should never be used without a VPN.
- Define the minimum standard of endpoint protection (e.g., antivirus and active firewall).
- What is the process for reporting potential security incidents? Create a channel for reporting such incidents.
- What is the process for reporting and securing lost or stolen devices? Ensure that the employees know how to behave in such situations.
- Define what a secure password is. How often should people change them? Are they allowed to share passwords for shared devices or software?
- Encourage the use of two-factor authentication (2FA) or MFA processes.
- Define who may see and work with specific types of files and information.
- Establish a schedule and procedure for software updates and hardware checks.
- Start a program of compulsory cybersecurity awareness training. Include topics such as how to ward off social engineering and phishing attacks, safety on social media, and data protection practices.
- Specify what disciplinary action you will take if people violate the rules.
Keep It Moving
Working on the go is often the only way for an entrepreneur to get through the endless tasks connected to starting a business. Implement a remote access policy guide to ensure your employees are helping and not hindering your efforts. It will help to maintain your cybersecurity protocols and can also help you to meet regulatory compliance obligations.