With the increase in remote work during this COVID-19 outbreak, many organizations are vulnerable to new data privacy and cybersecurity risks. For teleworkers, we have put together a Best Practices Checklist to help minimize risks associated with remote work. For organizations, we have a Best Practices Checklist with recommended next steps to help your organization manage the risks of teleworking at scale.
Best Practices Checklist for Teleworkers:
- Avoid public Wi-Fi. If you are unable to
access a trusted network for internet access, use your phone as a
hotspot. Public Wi-Fi networks are one of the riskiest ways
of accessing the internet.
- Secure your home network. Determine if
your router has up-to-date firmware and permits secure encrypted
communications. If not, determine if a router upgrade is
- Use work-issued devices. While you may
prefer to use a personal device when teleworking, if possible, use
a work-issued device to minimize security and data leakage risks
associated with using an unsecured, personal device.
- Avoid sharing your work-issued device with others in
your household. Telework can break down the barriers
between work and home. Device sharing dramatically increases
the risk of unauthorized information sharing.
- Be security-aware. Report suspicious
emails to your security team and remember that teleworking opens up
a new range of social-engineering style attacks. When calling
coworkers on personal phones, always verify their identity through
known work-issued communications channels.
- Keep a clean workspace. Take care to
ensure that work-related papers, particularly those relating to
confidential, personal, or customer information, be kept out of
view of family members.
- Lock your screen. When in a shared
workspace or family environment, lock your screen when away from
- Dispose wisely. If you have confidential or sensitive information in paper copy, shred it. Do not dispose of sensitive information in your household trash.
Best Practices Checklist for Organizations:
- Review your software-as-a-service
products. Especially evaluate existing collaboration
apps (Skype, Slack, etc.), and plan for increases in
- Review onboarding processes. Review any
existing processes for credentialing new or existing users.
The rush to enable remote work capabilities for existing personnel
can create additional security risks during a crisis.
- Do not trust personnel home-networks.
Plan your telework security policies and controls on the assumption
that external environments contain hostile threats. You
cannot rely on personnel to have enterprise level security on their
home networks. Treating each teleworker's network as
unsecured mitigates ongoing risk.
- Check your policies. Review or develop
your telework security policies to define telework, remote access,
and bring-your-own device requirements. Confirm that your
servers are configured in line with these policies.
- Be cautious about permitting bring-your-own
devices. If your organization permits the use of
bring-your-own devices on the organization's network, consider
establishing a separate, external, dedicated network for these
users in order to mitigate security risk.
- Remind personnel of incident reporting
procedures. Ensure clear reporting mechanisms for
security incidents. Personnel should be informed of the value
of reporting incidents as soon as possible. Early discovery
mitigates many of the worst consequences of security
- Promote a security-aware workforce. Keep your telework staff informed of common social-engineering attacks and train staff on work-from-home security basics. Teleworkers should be further trained to recognize situations that require involvement from your organization's security teams.
Your personnel and security teams may request additional guidance on the specific controls and recommendations provided in these checklists. Please refer them to the following resources.
- NIST: Bulletin on Remote Work; Guide to Enterprise Telework.
- NCSC: Preparing your organization for home working.
- CISCO Systems: Understanding Remote Worker Security.
- FTC: Online Security when Working from Home.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.