How to stop remote workers from causing a security incident: 3 tips

Some 36% of organizations said they experience security breaches due to remote work, according to an OpenVPN report. Here's how to help.

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Nearly three-quarters (73%) of IT leaders said remote workers present a greater risk to security than onsite employees, according to an OpenVPN report released on Monday. The report surveyed 250 IT leaders, including managers and executives, to determine the security risks posed by remote workers.

The majority of all teams (73%) are projected to have at least some remote workers within the next decade, indicating a significant shift in how the workforce operates. This influx of remote employees can be attributed to the rise of technology, as well as the many benefits associated with the work style including healthier work-life balance, lower stress levels, and less employee turnover.

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However, since remote work is conducted away from physical access to leadership, and often on public Wi-Fi or personal devices, security vulnerabilities have the chance to run rampant, the report found. Almost all (90%) respondents agreed that remote work does bring significant security risks to an organization.

With 36% of organizations facing security incidents because of remote workers, the report outlined the following three steps to better control remote work security:

1. Ditch the "set-it-and-forget-it" approach

Many organizations put a security policy in place, but don't update the policy to fit current threats. The cybersecurity market is always evolving and expanding, placing the responsibility on organizations to keep up and stay protected, the report found.

2. Focus on enforcing your security policy

Nearly half (49%) of IT leaders said that they somewhat agree that remote workers actually follow security policies, the report said. Companies must stay vigilant in implementing security measures, such as VPNs for personal devices, if they want to remain protected.

3. Let IT lead

Some 44% of organizations don't allow IT teams to lead the development of a workplace security policy, the report found. Organizations must let IT leaders take control of what they are most specialized in.

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Image: iStockphoto/shironosov

By Macy Bayern

Macy Bayern is an Associate Staff Writer for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.