Technology has enabled even mid-size companies to uncouple from the traditional office setting and build a remote team. Opening a wider pool of potential talent, reducing overhead, and streamlining operations, remote distribution of your workforce can make a lot of sense, especially for startups with limited funds.

That distribution of resources can also create problems. Sure you don’t have to worry about retaining a pricey MSP to manage your IT resources, but your security procedures are now in the hands of every single employee in their home office or a coworking space with unsecured WiFi. How do you ensure the most important information in your organization is protected, employees follow hardware and software protocols and you don’t become a target for cyber attack? Let’s take a closer look at some of the data security tactics you should be implementing to protect your remote team.

Invest in the Cloud

One of the reasons distribution works so well is cloud applications. It’s now possible for an entire organization to work seamlessly in a digital environment for email, communications, project management, finances, and more. More importantly, it allows you to require compliance from your staff who will have no choice but to upload their files into G Suite and log communications in Slack.

More importantly, the reason hackers increasingly focus on small businesses is because they use unprotected personal computers to store important data. Cloud protections are greater and make you less of an immediate target.

Establish Clear BYOD Policy

With a largely remote team, most staff will be using their own devices. If you work with contractors, this is almost certainly the case. So, how do you ensure they have the appropriate firewall, antivirus, and malware protection software in place, and that they update their computer regularly?

Establishing clear protocols for how devices are updated and managed when accessing company data is highly recommended, along with contracts outlining expectations of contractors and their staff. You should also consider data management policies as they relate to cloud access and checkout of vital files.

Password Security for a Remote Team

One of the most important things you can do to protect your data and access to your most vital accounts is to establish a clear password management and login policy. Two-factor authentication should be required for all mission critical accounts that support it – such as G Suite. If you are in a highly sensitive field, there are software solutions that integrate advanced biometric scanning for this authentication – iris scans or fingerprint scans – but even for a small SaaS startup, a phone-based two-factor authentication should be required for those high value accounts.

At the same time, passwords should never be shared or transferred via email or text. Control logins and ensure they remain safe and protected (especially if logging in on behalf of clients) with password management software. TeamsID is a cloud based solution for password management that fully integrates with G Suite (Google Apps) and is as easy and accessible as Slack. It’s a quick and easy way to add this much needed layer of security to your team while ensuring compliance.

Want to implement key security measures for your business without overburdening staff or running into issues of scale. Learn how to implement a lean cyber security plan with our Lean Security Checklist.

 

Training and Followup for a Remote Team

Training is the lifeblood of any data security policy. Too many companies assume that common sense recommendations like avoiding unknown email attachments and shutting down the computer regularly will be followed without prompting. The reality is that most people don’t think about these things and require regular followup and a clear explanation of what is at stake.

A closing manager wouldn’t forget to lock the doors of a local restaurant, so why should your employees forget to logout of their email when walking away from their computer? While you can’t look over their shoulders to check for compliance, you can implement detailed training in your onboarding materials, as well as followup training to review with them at a future time.

Ensuring Data Security Across All Company Access Points

It might seem more difficult to manage and ensure data security when working with a remote or partially remote team, but the reality is that most of the same policies can be used. You wouldn’t camp outside an employee’s office and watch them use their computer any more than you can fly to Nebraska to see if they are following security procedures.

What you can do is remove weak points in your technology stack, ensure there are clear, easy to follow policies in place, and provide regular training to both new and existing employees about the dangers of now following these policies.

Do it right, and your team will be as security-focused as you, doing their part to protect against the growing risk of cyber attack.

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