Mitigating Security Risks for Remote Workers Using VPN Technology
As coronavirus continues to spread, organizations and businesses across the country are now adapting to a new normal: working remotely. The switch to working from home has Northwest credit union employees adjusting to their home offices as IT departments work to ensure that their credit unions’ data remains safe and secure over virtual private networks (VPNs).
Given this is unchartered territory and dramatically impacting “business as usual” from a technology perspective, Strategic Link partner, IP Services, has offered its help to any credit union needing guidance and direction regarding remote systems management, disaster recovery planning, or even something as simple as remote access.
According to IP Services CEO, Scott Alldridge, shifting an organization to working remotely comes with a certain level of risk and uncertainty concerning data security. Credit union leaders must continue to be vigilant about communicating with their IT staff about the effectiveness of their systems and applications.
One of the biggest challenges for IT departments is teaching remote employees how to follow good cyber-hygiene practices. Just as it’s unwise to place sensitive personal information on a public computer, it pays to be extra cautious when working from a home Wi-Fi network. IT staff should instruct remote workers on the do’s and don’ts when using their credit union’s VPN.
“When someone is working from home, it broadens the attack surface of their computer and network because of other devices that may be attached to the home’s Wi-Fi network that hackers can breach to gain access. This situation could potentially cause a breach in the credit union’s VPN,” explained Alldridge.
IP Services offers the following advice and steps remote credit union employees can take to minimize cyberthreats:
- Review devices other household members who share the Wi-Fi network use and limit activity if possible.
- Ensure all household members know to use secure websites only, meaning that every URL should begin with https://.
- Don’t install new programs on devices using the home Wi-Fi network.
- Ensure all household members understand the importance of using strong passwords.
- Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and beware of email attachments.
- Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink.
“During this difficult time, IP Services is making resources available for credit unions and escalating special COVID-19 requests. Special times require special solutions, and we’re here to address credit unions’ needs. We’re prioritizing clients’ requests for additional cybersecurity resources, particularly for secure remote access purposes,” Alldridge said.
NWCUA members can download IP Services’ informative PowerPoint presentation, “Five Practical Cyber-Hygiene Practices Every Credit Union Should Be Practicing,” by clicking here. Additionally, IP Services has put together a checklist for cybersecurity remote workforce considerations, which credit unions can access here.