Security Strategies for Remote Workers

Keyser Santana headshot
Keyser Santana, member of the SIA RISE Steering Committee

As the remote work trend continues to grow, ensuring the physical security of remote workers has become a critical concern for organizations.

While much attention is given to cybersecurity, physical security should not be overlooked. Here are some key strategies to enhance the physical security of remote employees.

1. Secure Home Office Setup

Encouraging employees to establish a dedicated, secure workspace at home is essential. This includes:

  • Using lockable doors: A home office with a lockable door can prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.
  • Positioning screens: Ensure computer screens are not visible from windows or common areas to prevent shoulder surfing.
  • Secure storage: Provide lockable file cabinets or safes for storing confidential documents.

2. Device Security

Remote workers often use laptops, tablets and smartphones for their tasks, making device security paramount.

  • Encryption: All devices should have full disk encryption enabled to protect data in case of theft.
  • Antivirus and antimalware: Ensure robust antivirus and antimalware software is installed and regularly updated.
  • Remote wipe capabilities: Equip devices with remote wipe capabilities to erase data if the device is lost or stolen.

3. Secure Network Access

Remote workers frequently connect to the internet through personal networks, which can be less secure than corporate networks.

  • Virtual private networks (VPNs): Use VPNs to encrypt internet connections and protect data in transit.
  • Firewalls: Ensure personal firewalls are enabled on all devices to block unauthorized access.
  • Secure Wi-Fi: Encourage the use of WPA3 encryption for home Wi-Fi networks and strong, unique passwords.

4. Physical Security Training

Training employees on best practices for physical security is crucial.

  • Awareness programs: Conduct regular training sessions on recognizing and mitigating physical security risks.
  • Secure disposal: Educate employees on the importance of securely disposing of sensitive documents, such as using shredders.
  • Visitor protocols: Establish protocols for handling visitors at home offices to prevent unauthorized access to work areas.

5. Implement Security Policies

Developing comprehensive security policies tailored to remote work is vital.

  • Device usage policy: Outline acceptable use of company devices, including rules against using public Wi-Fi for sensitive work without VPN protection.
  • Data handling policy: Define procedures for handling, storing, and transmitting sensitive data.
  • Incident reporting: Create clear guidelines for reporting security incidents, including loss or theft of devices.

6. Physical Security Tools

Providing employees with physical security tools can greatly enhance their security posture.

  • Cable locks: Supply cable locks for laptops to deter theft.
  • Privacy screens: Offer privacy screens to prevent onlookers from viewing sensitive information.
  • Portable safes: Provide portable safes for securing devices and documents during travel.

7. Monitor and Support

Maintaining ongoing support and monitoring can help address security issues proactively.

  • Regular check-ins: Conduct regular check-ins to discuss security concerns and offer support.
  • Security audits: Perform periodic security audits of remote workspaces to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities.
  • IT support: Ensure IT support is readily available to assist with security-related issues.

Securing the remote workforce involves a multifaceted approach that combines secure home office setups, device security, network protection, employee training, robust policies and the provision of physical security tools. By implementing these strategies, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of physical security breaches and protect their remote employees and sensitive data.

Emphasizing physical security alongside cybersecurity will help create a comprehensive security culture that safeguards both digital and physical assets in a remote working environment. To this end, I wonder, how are security integrators evolving to meet the needs of the future as end users transition to a predominantly remote workforce?

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts and/or profiles are those of the authors or sources and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Security Industry Association.