In 2020, millions of businesses were thrust into remote work. What started as necessity has revealed lasting benefits for both employers and employees, though. The model improved productivity and employee morale, while lowering operational costs. Between these benefits and the continued priority of worker safety, many startups are launching with a remote or hybrid approach from the outset.
New businesses may find it easier to adopt this style of work because they don’t have a team that’s used to being in the office together, or to following processes that were never designed with a remote model in mind. This provides an advantage for cybersecurity, as well.
With employees working from anywhere, security education and involvement are more crucial than ever. A culture of security can be a unifying force that makes safe online habits a source of pride, rather than a chore. The good news for startups is that it’s less work to create this from scratch than it is to transform an existing culture.
It’s a privilege that fledgling businesses shouldn’t squander! If you’re growing a remote-first company or are just starting out, you can get security right the first time and minimize your risk of a costly data breach.
An overdue focus on cybersecurity
The “remote revolution” happened faster than anyone could have predicted, especially before the pandemic. And IT security is still catching up. Established businesses that made the shift had to rewrite their rulebooks, and unlearn old habits and processes. Unfortunately, a high number of companies relaxed their security protocols to stay productive, creating a golden opportunity for cybercriminals.
But awareness is spreading. More people are talking about data security at work, and investments in cybersecurity startups are growing. Modern concepts like the zero-trust model are being adopted by companies big and small.
Alongside these trends is a growing understanding that good security is about more than lofty infrastructure investments and hiring specialists with years of expertise. Training all employees and building a culture of security across the organization is a far more important defense against the vast majority of data breaches, which involve a human element like weak passwords and phishing emails.
The secret is to make cybersecurity a shared responsibility and a natural part of your company’s operations, rather than a complex puzzle to solve.
Foster a culture of security, wherever your employees work
As a fully distributed company since the beginning, 1Password has always embraced the culture of security concept. Employee security training starts at onboarding and is continuously strengthened through an easy-to-read handbook, 1Password University courses, and regular training on Zoom. Today, with working from home as the rule and not the exception, this mindset should be center stage for business decision-makers.
Don’t resort to scare tactics, as they don’t work and will stop your business from building a collaborative culture of security. This is especially true for fully remote companies. Don’t scold or punish employees for using unapproved productivity apps (also known as “shadow IT”). Instead, teach employees how to use these apps in the safest way possible. It will protect your business better in the long run and empower remote employees to work in a way that’s best for them.
In a culture of security, mindful habits are a part of everyone’s routine. In turn, security feels like a manageable responsibility – not something complicated that only an IT department can handle.
The right tools can play a big role. Not sure where to start? Embrace an enterprise password manager like 1Password. It will give your distributed team a secure and convenient way to create, manage, and share passwords and other private information. This single technology investment, paired with proper training, will close your biggest security gap. Your team becomes an active contributor to company cybersecurity, while making their own lives easier in the process.
The benefits of a security-first mindset when working remotely
As a new remote company, you can bake these ideas into your workflows and employee training from the get-go. To do so:
- Craft some thoughtful guidelines for safe online habits
- Build these policies into your onboarding and reinforce them with regular training
- Make sure remote workers know what security risks to look for and red flags they might encounter
- Assign or hire a dedicated security expert/team (if you don’t already have one) and facilitate any training that might be needed
- Facilitate a direct line of communication between employees and security experts to report suspicious activity or potential security snafus
Together, these steps can nurture a security-first mindset in each team member that joins your company. Our guide to creating a culture of security explains more about what information to include, who to involve, and how to maximize adoption within your team.
The sooner you foster this mindset, the better. Because your up-and-coming business can’t afford to deal with the fallout of a serious data breach. Not to mention you’re keeping your customers safe.
1Password helps employees contribute to your security culture and also take personal action with incident response. For example, our Watchtower service will alert employees if a site they use is breached, so they can immediately update the associated logins (or delete the accounts entirely). 1Password will also remind employees to strengthen any passwords that are either weak or reused on different accounts.
By combining the right tools and teachings, your remote team’s security-first mindset will inform their daily routines both in and out of work. This culture of security will become a constant as your team scales and refines its processes. Wherever your employees are working from, this will help keep them, your company, and your customers safe.