December 20, 2022

How to Prevent Data Breaches in Remote Teams: 9 Tips for Global Businesses

A worldwide team is a great advantage for your company, but working remotely might expose you to expensive security threats, such as data breaches. You must put in place strong policies and provide staff training if you want to make sure that your data and that of your clients don't end up in the wrong hands. To get started, read our top suggestions.

data breaches, Remote teams
Working with remote teams might expose your company to costly security dangers like data breaches. Here are 9 essential tips for avoiding them.
Linda Saleri
Recruitment Specialist

How to Prevent Data Breaches in Remote Teams: 9 Tips for Global Businesses

Everything meaningful in your business is built on data. It's what propels your company forward, what keeps you one step ahead of the competition, and how you provide the highest level of customer service. You obviously don't want such information to get into the wrong hands. But if you don't have the proper safeguards in place, expanding your company globally and building a global, remote team can put you at risk of a data breach.

We'll provide you with the information you need to comprehend:

  • How data breaches can impact your clients, business, and remote workforce
  • The precautions you should take to prevent a data breach
  • How Outshore may aid in creating safe international teams.

What Impact Can Data Breach Have on Remote Teams?
Undoubtedly, the future of work includes globalization, foreign teams, and remote work. However, without careful planning and strong security measures, your business may experience a data breach.
Businesses rapidly shuttered their offices at the start of the epidemic, and many employees started working from home. As a result, several neglected their cyber (and physical) protection.
The security precautions provided by office networks, such as firewalls and blacklisted IP addresses, were no longer in place as employees connected to their home networks and free WiFi. The usage of personal and work-related mobile devices to access company data may have also made employers feel out of control.
Companies large and small are becoming more vulnerable to new and developing security flaws as a result of the rise in the adoption of cloud storage and the absence of efficient remote data protection strategies.

What Effects Might a Data Breach Have?
For your company, becoming a victim of a data breach can be terrible. Many business owners and IT professionals already have trouble sleeping due to the financial costs of data breaches, but leaks can also harm a brand's reputation, customer trust, and even employee retention and recruiting.
After all, a data breach doesn't only harm your own firm, but the businesses and personal lives of others affected too. In short, you should take every precautionary measure possible to avoid one.
The average overall cost of a data breach grew from $3.86 million to $4.24 million between 2020 and 2021, according to IT company IBM, an increase of almost 10%. The average total cost of breaches where remote work was a contributing component was $1.07 million greater than breaches where remote work wasn't a contributing factor. Cyber security is undoubtedly a significant issue to take into account when comparing remote work with office employment. However, you shouldn't let your teams operate remotely or cease their internationalization efforts because you're worried about data leaks.
Instead, regardless of where your coworkers are located, you should allocate resources to successfully preserving data.

What Is a Data Breach?
A data breach - sometimes known as a cyber security breach, data leak, or data spill - occurs when sensitive, confidential, or protected information is accessed by an unauthorized person or persons, physically or digitally.

This data could include:

  • Personal information such as names, addresses, medical histories, etc.
  • Employee account passwords & credentials
  • Client or target contact lists
  • Company strategy documents
  • Physical papers containing business plans & forecasts.

Phishing, man-in-the-middle attacks, denial-of-service assaults, password attacks, virus attacks, and even unintentional human error are some of the several types of data breaches.

One of the most frequent reasons for data breaches is human mistake. Employees frequently communicate private information to the incorrect person, which is easily done when working remotely. This kind of data breach, whether it occurs as a result of inadvertently CCing an unrelated party or attaching the incorrect file to an email, may be very detrimental to a company.
There are techniques to reduce risk and safeguard the data for your company, just as there are for any kind of data breach. The best place to start is by learning about best practices for cyber security.

Cyber Security Best Practices

Before we outline our detailed nine-step plan for preventing data breaches, here are the most important cyber security best practices every business should understand and implement:

  • Hire or work with a cyber security specialist.
  • Provide comprehensive training for all your team members throughout the employee lifecycle.
  • Equip your teams with effective security software and ensure it’s kept up to date.
  • Regularly back up data.

How to Prevent Data Breaches with Remote Workers

Staying in control of your data is vital, especially when it’s being accessed remotely from across the world. Preventing data breaches isn’t an easy job, but there are several ways you can help mitigate data leak risks for remote teams, whether it’s educating your staff or putting comprehensive policies in place.

Below, we outline the key steps you should take to help prevent data and cyber security breaches in remote teams.

1. Implement a Zero Trust Security Model
A Zero Trust model suggests that even if a device, user, or system is already connected to a managed corporate network, you shouldn't trust them by default.
This effectively means that before any user is granted access to any apps or data, they must first be authenticated, authorized, and continually confirmed. Consider it to be an example of digital due diligence: never trust, always verify.
We'll outline the techniques and resources you can utilize to do that in the steps that follow.

2. Focus on Endpoint Security

Endpoint security should be a priority for any firm, but particularly for companies that are expanding worldwide.
Protecting end-user devices, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets that are used to access the corporate network or sensitive data, is referred to as endpoint security. Endpoint security flaws can be used by malicious actors to access sensitive data, leading to a breach. Maintaining watertightness of your company's endpoints gets more difficult when they are dispersed around the globe.

For remote teams, endpoint security should go far beyond installing off-the-shelf anti-virus software. An effective endpoint security solution should also include a firewall, malware removal, ransomware protection, device management, password manager, and a business VPN.

3. Create and Update Data Security Procedures and Policies
Your employees can clearly understand what is expected of them thanks to comprehensive data security procedures and rules. If you don't currently have information security policies and procedures in place, you should start developing and putting them into practice right once. If you already have these rules, it's possible that they will need to be updated to take into consideration new working arrangements, such as remote work or recruiting individuals from abroad.

Your information security policies should include clear rules and guidelines about:

  • Acceptable uses of company property (e.g., computers and company social media platforms)
  • Remote access (where and how can staff access company data)
  • Password creation, storage, and MFA usage
  • Use of anti-virus and anti-malware software
  • Installation of external software
  • Sharing of sensitive information internally and externally
  • Use of personal social media platforms in relation to the company
  • Backing up information securely
  • Response to potential data breaches.

4. Educate Your Team Members about Cyber (and Physical) Security

Data breaches can be significantly reduced by giving your entire workforce thorough training and raising their level of security awareness. Every team member, from your CEO to your entry-level employees, is accountable for cyber security.
Starting with onboarding, this education should continue periodically throughout the whole employee tenure. It ought to cover explanations of pertinent security policies as well as hands-on training.
To own this education series, you should try to recruit a professional IT team or a security specialist if you don't already have one. Alternatively, you can ask for help from reputable security education providers.

5. Enable a Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solution
A mobile device management system makes it much simpler to establish endpoint security. Your IT team can remotely manage endpoints (such as business computers, tablets, and mobile phones) thanks to this piece of software.
Your IT team can monitor, manage, and secure company-owned devices with an efficient MDM solution in place, and they can put important policies in place to help stop data leaks.
Prior to employee onboarding, MDM solutions enable IT workers to configure devices, ensuring that the appropriate software is loaded and ready to use. Additionally, they may control future application installations on the employee's device and get rid of those that can compromise the security of the company's data.

6. Enforce Strong Credentials & Multi-factor Authentication

The most valuable data in your company can be accessed using passwords, which act as virtual keys. However, according to IBM’s report, compromised credentials were responsible for 20% of breaches. Because of this, passwords must be robust and challenging to crack. Additionally, they must to be simple for the authorized user to remember (without the need to write them down). Additionally, every user account needs to have a different password.
This can be difficult, but by utilizing a safe password manager like LastPass, you can be confident that your workers can create and securely save all of their login information. Without requiring your coworkers to remember them, the software can generate very secure passwords made up of random strings of letters, numbers, and symbols.

An extra measure you can take to keep important accounts secure is implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA). When MFA is enabled, a user has to provide more than one piece of evidence to prove they have the authority to access an account. Examples of MFA methods include:

  • Push notifications
  • One-time passwords
  • SMS codes
  • Biometric data (e.g., fingerprint)
  • Physical authentication tokens

Multi-factor authentication, combined with strong passwords, makes it much harder for malicious actors to get hold of your data.

7. Use a VPN Solution

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is software that encrypts data to help keep online information private and secure. This makes it harder for hackers to access confidential data.

VPNs are legally permissible in most jurisdictions and are especially useful for remote teams who need to access internal applications and company data when they aren’t able to connect to the company’s internal network.

VPNs give you extra peace of mind when your colleagues connect to potentially insecure networks in their homes or in public spaces.

8. Perform Regular Updates and Patches

Every day, cyberattacks get more and more sophisticated. That's why you need to guarantee your chosen security software is always up-to-date. Software upgrades can patch security problems, remove bugs, and introduce new functionality.
Your IT team should make sure that essential software is configured to update itself automatically so you don't have to rely on each user remembering to do so. Your mobile device management system can be used for this.

9. Implement a Robust Offboarding Process

Offboarding a team member securely is as important as onboarding one. Your staff members have access to invaluable information, so it’s vital that you remove access as soon as a team member leaves the company.

While many employees leave without issue, the risk of a data leak isn’t worth skipping essential security procedures. On your colleague’s last day, you should:

  • Update passwords to company accounts
  • Revoke their access to company-related accounts
  • Retrieve any company-owned assets, like keys, fobs, flash drives, laptops, cell phones, credit cards, etc.

Build Secure Global Teams with Outshore

We understand your data is invaluable, so when we employ international talent on your behalf, we use industry-leading safety measures to protect and maintain your data.

By scheduling a free consultation with a member of our team, you can find out how Outshore can help your business develop and thrive safely.