2 Sep · 6 min read
Remote work has become an increasingly popular and widespread practice all over the entire globe, especially now that companies require a large portion of their staff members to work from home. However, while this practice increases versatility, efficiency, and work-life balance, it has a drawback: remote work security vulnerabilities.
Cybersecurity has become an also greater issue for companies worldwide as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic's new remote-working environment.
Because more rigorous and powerful cybersecurity is required to protect employees working remotely, organizations should begin looking toward more advanced techniques, such as making an investment in a zero-trust model as well as identity-centric assistance, to provide a stronger response to these repeated attacks.
We've compiled a list of the top remote working security risks that businesses should be aware of right now. Determine whether your company must include these virtual work tips into its remote work policies to secure data, reduce security risks, and protect employees while working.
Your employees could be using unsecured public Wi-Fi to connect to their home wireless network or access their corporate accounts. Malicious actors nearby can easily spy on their connections and steal confidential information this way. Data sent in plain text in an unencrypted form, for example, could be intercepted and stolen by cybercriminals. As a result, unless they are using a VPN connection, your employees should not be permitted to connect to any unknown Wi-Fi network. You should always have a privacy-first culture in the remote team of your organization.
Businesses that store data in the cloud are more likely to experience data breaches as a result of unsecured databases. To connect with workers located remotely across different regions, companies' IT departments attempt to configure security measures in their servers to allow remote workers access. They forget to close the loopholes after finishing the configurations, leaving their databases with leaks.
A cybersecurity researcher discovered one such leak in August 2021. He discovered that his company's data had been leaked after finding it online. That point had leaked over 106 million visitor files. That data leak included confidential material such as the visitor's full name, gender, visa type, arrival date, and so on. He notified the appropriate authorities, and the databases had been secured.
Companies may have encryption policies in place for data stored on their networks, but they may not think about encryption when data is in transit between systems. This includes third party cloud file-sharing and email services. Employees share a great deal of sensitive information daily, ranging from client data to proprietary product information, so businesses cannot afford to use unencrypted file-sharing solutions or services. Stolen data can result in ransomware attacks, theft, and reputational damage.
Companies can ensure that remote employees share files and data securely by using secure file-sharing services such as Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, and WeTransfer. Companies can use ProtonMail or HushMail for encrypted email, or they can use the VPN to ensure that all email is on the corporate network. (While most VPNs include end-to-end encryption, the specifics may vary depending on the deployment.)
Human error is easier to exploit than trying to get past an advanced security solution, so cyber criminals will attempt to crack account passwords to access private company data.
Passwords are cracked using a variety of methods by hackers. For example, they will compile lists of frequently used passwords that can be used to gain access to poorly secured accounts.
Password repetition is another common insecure operation used by cybercriminals. They will attempt to access other accounts with the same password once they have cracked the password for one account. Employees who reuse passwords, especially across personal and business accounts, are more likely to become victims of a cyberattack.
The majority of malware and other hacks are delivered via phishing email attacks, and they are effective. Last year, 66% of surveyed organizations in the United Kingdom experienced a successful phishing attack, and 30% of them were infected with malware as a result.
Phishing attacks frequently use current events to exploit people's fears and emotions to persuade them to open malicious attachments or click links to spoof sites. The scams are intended to trick people into providing login information or downloading malicious software that grants criminals access to the computer. These emails have become so sophisticated that employees are finding it increasingly difficult to detect them, especially if they get past corporate email filters and into their inboxes. Because of that, they don’t have a secured remote office.
Employee training on how to detect and avoid phishing emails can help to reduce the risk posed by these emails. To ensure that everyone is aware, it should be implemented for both existing and new hires. Companies should also schedule regular phishing detection training and refresher courses to keep employees up to date on the latest threats, which the United Kingdom excels at, as more than half (52%) hold quarterly security training for employees, which is higher than the global average (41%). Regular reminders and training are especially important for remote employees who access the corporate network using their software or devices. Security teams should also customize training to include non-standard or non-corporate devices like personal devices or tech stacks.
Ransomware restricts access to remote devices, and the owners demand a ransom to remove the restriction. This typically occurs when IT personnel relax, allowing attackers to strike. Malware can cause significant damage to company data but is not always associated with the ransom. When company systems are remotely connected to allow remote workers access, the IT department is unable to closely monitor the system for attacks.
This is what occurred in the United States on July 4, Independence Day. REvil, a cybercrime organization, anticipated that IT personnel would be unavailable on this day. They took advantage of the situation and hacked over 1000 companies in the United States. The attacked companies experienced significant downtime, which had a significant impact on their revenue.
Employers have less control and visibility over their employees' data security when they work remotely. GDPR requires businesses to protect personal information and reduce the security risk of data breaches through various security measures, but dealing with it for remote employees is difficult. A solid remote work policy that outlines the corporate access control policy ensures GDPR compliance, reduces risk, and protects data. It should specify which employees have access to corporate servers, what data they can access, and how they can use it in the course of their daily duties.
Even though cybersecurity is our primary focus in remote working, we cannot ignore physical security when it comes to your company's sensitive information. Employees may, for example, be talking on the phone loudly while working in public places, exposing their laptop's screen for the entire crowd inside a café to see, or even leaving their devices unattended.
Companies should teach their employees even the most basic security precautions, even if they appear obvious at first glance. A friendly reminder to them not to expose your company's data will always be beneficial.
You must manage your employees' security risks whether they work in the office, at home, in shared working spaces, or anywhere else. Because of the difficulties in organizing employees while adhering to lockdown restrictions, regulators such as the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) have been lenient regarding potential data protection violations during the pandemic.
However, now that most countries are returning to normalcy, you mustn't get caught off guard. Many companies provide excellent tools and advice to ensure that you have the knowledge and resources to protect your organization while implementing a hybrid working model.