The Rise of Remote Work: Educating Staff on Cybersecurity and Data Protection Practices in the Workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a major shift in business operations worldwide, encouraging the adoption of hybrid schedules – and in some cases, removing the possibility of an office return entirely.

While once simply a tactic of progressive companies for luring top talent, the opportunity to work from home became common in many industries. This fundamental shift transformed kitchen tables into workspaces and personal devices into not-so-personal office essentials. While this shift shortened commutes significantly, it virtually opened the door to cyber-attacks and presented an increased threat to operations.

From unsecured connections to the use of personal devices to conduct business, cybersecurity awareness has become all the more crucial to protect against digital threats and potential data breaches. At Telcom Insurance Group, having the right insurance in place is only half the battle, with education a close second. Ensuring the security of your organization’s data and systems is a shared responsibility between the employer and the employees.

Keep reading to learn more about the evolution of remote work and to find out how you can train employees on data protection and cybersecurity in today’s digital workspace.

Understanding Cybersecurity in the Realm of Remote Work

The abrupt shift to a work-from-home model left many businesses vulnerable in the digital space. Employees began utilizing personal computers, smartphones, and tablets to perform their job duties, oftentimes using devices and networks that were unsecured. An OpenVPN study revealed that 73% of VP and C-Suite IT leaders maintained the notion that remote workers posed a greater security risk than on-site employees.

Cybersecurity risk management, and therefore the importance of cyber liability insurance (LINK to the previous blog on Cyber Liability Insurance in the Digital Landscape), addresses the threat associated with the lack of a defined physical and network perimeter. In a traditional office setting, the perimeter surrounded a well-defined and controlled space. However, the ability to log in from various locations and devices creates multiple points of vulnerability for cybercriminals to attack and exploit. A single, compromised device, for instance, becomes a gateway to the entire network of the organization and the data within.

Educating Staff on Cybersecurity and Data Protection Best Practices

With the rise of phishing scams and ransomware attacks, protection against cybersecurity threats continues to grow in importance. The first step toward proper protection, for yourself and your employees, is education. These tips will help to keep your business and the workers it employs safe.

      1. Make Protocol a Priority.
        Employee training begins with helping staff understand their crucial role in keeping business data secure. Stressing the importance of following protocol and protecting the devices used to access industry information can save you from having to file a claim on your cyber liability insurance.
      2. Encourage Proper Device Care.
        Forrester, a research and advisory firm, conducted a survey that found 15% of company breaches in the business and technology sector are caused by lost or missing devices. The following are ways to raise awareness among employees and remind them that their device acts as a gateway to the organization’s network:

        • Emphasize the difference between personal and professional use.
        • Implement mandatory monitoring, restricted installations, and web filtering of work accounts.
        • Ensure that security patches and updates are followed.
      3. Teach How to Spot Suspicious Activity.
        Security training is multilayered, but one of the key components in data protection is being able to spot suspicious activity. Improve your employees’ ability to identify questionable activity by teaching them to look for these signs:

        • The sudden appearance of new apps or programs
        • Strange pop-ups during normal operation and startup
        • Loss of control of the mouse or keyboard
        • Sender’s email address and name that seems spoofed
      4. Conduct Mock Cybersecurity Threats.
        Sometimes the only way to learn is to do. You can’t expect your team or employees to build proper cybersecurity habits overnight, especially if they have never encountered a digital attack in the real world. Just like an in-office fire drill, running regular practice attacks will help employees learn what to be on the lookout for and pinpoint the places where your organization can improve.
      5. Embed Cybersecurity into the Culture.
        Cybersecurity, especially in the telecommunications industry where the scope of sensitive data is wide, should become deeply ingrained into workplace culture – from the moment a new hire comes on board. Providing formal education or training courses, along with ongoing communication via newsletters or email updates, will stress the importance of cybersecurity in the remote work environment.

Choose Telcom Insurance Group for Cybersecurity Training

At Telcom Insurance Group, we support the telecommunications companies we serve by passing along our wealth of industry knowledge on cyber liability and security. This not only helps our clients more effectively manage cyber risk but offers much-needed peace of mind. That’s why we have created a portal geared directly to our customers, with resources such as an incident roadmap, Breach Coach accessibility, and more!

Cybersecurity in the current work-from-home environment begins with employees. Opening the lines of communication and prioritizing personal device security could be the difference between side-stepping a data breach and becoming a victim.

For questions regarding cyber liability insurance or to continue the conversation on staff education in the realm of remote work, contact Telcom Insurance Group today!