The current Covid-19 situation all over the world has forced organizations to change their way of working. Employees are asked to work remotely in order to respect safety instructions. These measures are necessary of course but it’s a whole new way of working for many companies.

Communication & Organization

Such a big change requires some adjustments at different organizational levels. You should try and recreate the rituals and habits that employees have when they work in the office.

Ensure internal communication

People are the keystone of any organization. You need to ensure the communication keeps going internally and at all organizational levels. You can use instant messaging platforms such as Slack for example to allow your employees to communicate with other departments.

However, communication doesn’t have to only be professional. It is also important to keep the “coffee break chats” between employees. To do so, different channels can be created for different topics.

In a nutshell, you need to try to keep the same communication level (professional or not) as when everyone was working in the office.

Keep a rigorous organization

Organization (whether personal or professional) is inevitably going to change for your employees, and it’s a good thing, provided it’s done the right way.

Firstly, personal organization is important when working from home. It’s easy (and depressing in the long run) to get up, have breakfast, put yourself in front of your screen, vaguely consult your emails, procrastinate in your pyjamas while doing a few trips to the refrigerator.

To avoid this, it is crucial to set up and scrupulously respect a routine that’s adapted to one’s personal constraints. It needs to be firm and precise, with work schedules, break and meal times, clearly defined.

Secondly, regarding professional organization, certain platforms such as project management solutions can help you organize your tasks and projects. It’s very beneficial, especially with remote working. Your projects, tasks, priorities and deadlines are clearly defined, in complete transparency, thus avoiding any “silo” effect or loss of information.

Remote working & IT Security

Working from home brings many benefits such as flexibility and work-life balance, but it also comes with high security risk that IT professionals understand very well.

Why is working remotely risky?

Flexibility, work-life balance, time saving… are all known benefits of working remotely. However, along with the benefits come the risks.

According to this research, we can see that IT professionals are well aware of the cybersecurity risks of remote working:

  • 92% of IT professionals think that the benefits of remote work outweigh the risks.
  • 90% agree that remote workers pose a security risk.
  • 54% said they pose a greater security risk than employees on site.

Whether we’re talking about insecure networks, spying, hacking, exploited employees… the risk is present and can come from different directions. Finally, it’s all about the ability of the IT team to securely extend access to the corporate network – and the valuable data inside.

Secure your remote employees in 4 steps

First of all, awareness is extremely important in this situation. Employees need to know about the challenges and security risks of working from home. However, this obviously not enough. Here are four steps to make sure your organization is secure while your employees work remotely:

  1. Use a VPN
  2. Secure access to VPN connections
  3. Monitor and manage all RDP sessions
  4. Use two factor authentication for all RDP sessions

Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, creates a secure tunnel between the remote machine and your corporate network. What a VPN does is route the traffic through the internet from your organization’s private network, ensuring even more security. Basically, anyone who tries to intercept the encrypted data will not be able to read it

Secure VPN connections

Alright, we now have a VPN in place. It is now time to secure the connections to the VPN. An easy way to do so is to limit VPN access only to authorized machines (whether from the company or personal employees’ laptops). This is to make sure that any connection attempt from a “non-authorized” machine is denied.

Monitor and manage all RDP sessions

Remote sessions or RDP sessions, refer to a computer connecting remotely to another, sharing control of its mouse and keyboard, and viewing its display. Employees working from home use this on their personal device to connect to their work machine.

Detecting unusual or suspicious access can be done by monitoring, restricting and managing your RDP sessions. Stopping those access is possible with real-time alerts and immediate response.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) for RDP sessions

Two-factor authentication is considered to be one of the most effective controls an organization can implement in order to prevent an unauthorized person from gaining access to a device or network and accessing valuable information. It is designed to secure user access to the Windows environment.

For remote connections the need is extremely important. Employees who try to connect remotely or virtually to a computer within the corporate network should be prompted with 2FA in order to further verify their identity.

This is simply an additional layer of security. The more security layers in place, the little the risk of an attacker to gain access to your corporate systems.

François Amigorena is the founder and CEO of IS Decisions, and an expert commentator on cybersecurity issues.

Remote working stock photo by Rido/Shutterstock