Remote work and cybersecurity go hand in hand. The fact that the remote work environment has given rise to new security concerns is the most important of all challenges. In the digital age, businesses tried to improve their remote work security, yet distributed work has significantly increased remote work cybersecurity threats. Employees who work from home are far more in danger than those who work in offices.
Due to the less secure nature of residential connections, hackers can more easily access corporate networks. The proliferation of online collaboration and productivity tools, solutions, and services also tends to have the most basic security default settings. Updates from outside suppliers might modify security preferences and be easily overlooked.
But how does that happen, and what are the remote work cybersecurity risks associated with it?
Can hackers access all your data?
What should you do to enhance your company's remote work security?
Not all your employees are tech-savvy, then how can you help or guide them to upgrade their remote work security? Let's begin with the basics first!
What are remote work cybersecurity risks?
Remote work cybersecurity risks refer to potential threats to the security of information stored, transmitted, and processed electronically. These risks include hacking, phishing, malware, ransomware attacks, data violations, and unauthorized access to sensitive information. Additionally, remote work cybersecurity risks include natural disasters and human error, such as lost or stolen devices. These risks can result in financial losses, reputational damage, and legal liability for organizations and individuals.
What kind of remote work cybersecurity risks are present when working remotely?
Phishing and social engineering attacks: Pritish Purohit, Group Head of Cyber Governance at FWD Insurance in Singapore, observes that attacks like phishing and ransomware can more readily bypass corporate defenses without the immediate context of an office. Remote workers are more susceptible to phishing and social engineering attacks, as they may be more likely to click on links or open attachments in emails while working outside a secure office environment.
Unpatched software: Remote workers may not have the same level of IT support as they would in the office and, as a result, may be using out-of-date software that is more vulnerable to attacks.
Lack of security talent:Around 80% of companies witnessed cybersecurity threats due to a lack of cybersecurity skills. Some firms may delay fully protecting remote workers due to staffing issues. Network security provider Fortinet disclosed that 60% of the 1,223 IT and remote work cybersecurity representatives surveyed find it challenging to recruit remote work security skillsets, and 52% struggle to preserve qualified workers. In comparison, 67% acknowledged that the lack of qualified remote work cybersecurity applicants presents more significant risks to their organizations. These findings are included in Fortinet's "2022 Cybersecurity Skills Gap Global Research Report."
Remote access: Remote workers may need to access sensitive company information and systems remotely, which can introduce additional vulnerabilities if not properly secured.
Unsecured networks: Remote workers may use unsecured home networks, making it easier for cybercriminals to intercept sensitive information.
Webcam hacking and zoom bombing: Both businesses and hackers use video conferencing and other online cooperation tools more frequently. Cybercriminals can interrupt or disrupt online conferences and sneak about undetectably to collect information like confidential company communications or proprietary data.
Insider threats: Remote workers may not be supervised as closely as in-office employees, making it easier for them to engage in malicious activity or inadvertently expose sensitive information.
Lack of physical security: Remote workers may not have the same level of physical security as they would in the office, making it easier for cybercriminals to steal devices or access sensitive information.
If there is a problem, there is a solution for sure. Browse how you can protect and train employees to enhance their remote work security.
Ways companies can protect and train employees to advance their remote work security
1. Better be informed than sorry
When you know the vulnerabilities that could jeopardize your remote work cybersecurity when working from home, you can take precautions to reduce the risks.
Although you can't completely rule out the risk of a cyberattack, you can try to lessen the chance by increasing your remote work security.
The best way is to think ahead of what your enemies are thinking.
Appoint a separate sub-team to your cybersecurity team, who researches the threats and their intensity. This way, you will always be prepared.
2. Remote work security awareness training
Providing regular security awareness training to employees can help them identify and avoid phishing and social engineering attacks, as well as other cyber threats.
Beginning with the obvious- Inform on-site and off-site staff members about cybersecurity best practices and guidelines.
This can mean holding frequent security briefings where you update your staff on the latest advancements in remote work security. Knowing this will significantly lessen the effects of a cybersecurity attack.
3. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
One of the most effective techniques to maintain remote work security is a virtual private network (VPN). Implementing VPNs can help protect remote workers' connections to company networks and systems and encrypt their internet traffic.
A VPN increases the security of an internet session, transferred data, money transfers, and personal information, regardless of where they are situated.
Using a VPN, your staff members can establish a secure connection to your company network from a public network. They will be given access to internet anonymity and privacy in this way, which is vital for remote work security.
4. Remote access security
Sometimes login credentials are insufficient to thwart online attacks. Users are required to submit more than one form of identification to establish their identity using multi-factor authentication. There are several methods for doing this.
Some companies require remote work security questions in addition to login credentials. These frequently inquire about the user's early life or other intimate data.
Others utilize email or text for authentication. You enter your login information, and a code is sent to your phone number or email address. Remember that SMS codes are frequently not the best form of authentication. Your information may be in danger even if a stranger is watching you.
Implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) and other security measures for remote access can help protect company information and systems from unauthorized access.
To reduce these dangers, time-based one-time passwords (TOTP) may be helpful. These passwords only function once and are only valid for a limited time.
Biological authentication is an additional technique. This is when the software employs a physical piece of information, such as a fingerprint or face feature.
Using several authentication methods makes it less likely that an attacker will gain access to your company network.
5. Software updates and patches
Ensuring that remote workers' devices and software are up-to-date can help protect them from known vulnerabilities, thereby upgrading their remote work security. A computer system's first line of defense is its firewall. However, even something as easy as turning off firewalls during work puts you and your staff at risk.
Make it a rule that all developers must always have firewalls enabled on their work computers. This might be the simplest solution to at least partially ensure cybersecurity when working from home.
6. Device management
Implementing device management policies can help organizations ensure that remote workers' devices are secure and comply with company standards. Security lapses that are done on purpose and maliciously constitute adversarial attacks.
Several instances include
Phishing: This happens when hackers steal login information by posing as reliable organizations. Frequently, these are phony websites.
Social engineering is a psychological ruse used to deceive people into disclosing information to others with malevolent intentions in the context of cybersecurity.
Malware, a play on the phrase "malicious software," refers to software created to compromise your computer, system, or network.
One method for enhancing remote work security is good password management. For your staff to avoid constructing passwords that are simple to guess, it is frequently necessary to use software like a password-generating tool. This program is referred to as a password manager.
7. Regular remote work security audit
Conducting regular remote work security audits can help organizations identify and address vulnerabilities in their networks and systems.
Trust is essential. But for the same reason, you should restrict employee access to confidential company information. Giving more people access increases the possibility of security breaches.
Give your staff only the apps and information they need. You can always grant someone extra privileges if and when the situation calls for it. Compared to allowing free access to everyone, this model is significantly safer.
8. Remote workers' guidelines
Establishing guidelines for remote workers can help ensure they understand their responsibilities regarding remote work security and compliance. A unified approach to handling security issues will ensure that everyone is following procedures and not putting sensitive data in danger from cyberattacks.
Such a policy might contain the following:
Case studies and illustrations
Advice on what can be done if there is a cyber danger
The tools that employees must use to generate secure passwords for their remote work security
Conduct remote work cybersecurity seminars
For workers to follow along whenever necessary, there should also be clear guidance on tackling cybersecurity issues in work-from-home environments.
Encrypting sensitive data can help your company to protect it from unauthorized access, even if it is stolen or lost. One choice for keeping remote work's cybersecurity at a high level is to use cloud service providers. Data encryption technology is used by cloud services to send private data. Your information can be encrypted in a few different ways.
The first is via workstation gadgets. When an employee's device is lost or stolen, no one can access its data if you ask them to encrypt their devices.
Second, you need to encrypt the copies of all linked hardware and software that you have. Regardless of whether your company manages an app, website, or hard drive, these items might malfunction or become infected with malware.
A data backup strategy for remote workers must be part of your cybersecurity plan. Even your backups, however, are not always secure. To prevent a data intrusion, therefore you should also encrypt backups.
Transactions will be even more secure now that blockchain is also used in cloud services, and your wallet will also be content.
10. Remote Monitoring
Implementing remote monitoring can help detect and respond to suspicious activity on remote systems, which is crucial for tight remote work security.
Monitoring company-issued devices can prevent cybersecurity risks at work-from-home stations, even though privacy and trust are crucial factors to consider. When working with digital, internet-capable equipment, keep the following in mind:
Update the anti-virus software on them.
Analyze the likely entry point for security risks.
Check to see if staff are adhering to the company's security requirements.
It's important to note that remote work cybersecurity is a continuous process, and employee training and awareness should be an ongoing task for the company to ensure that employees are up-to-date with the latest threats and best practices.
What to do if a cybersecurity breach happens?
If a cybersecurity breach occurs, it is essential to take immediate action to minimize the damage and prevent further violations. The following steps can help:
Isolate the affected systems: Disconnect the affected systems from the network to prevent the spread of the breach.
Perform a thorough investigation: Determine the scope and nature of the breach, including what systems and data were compromised.
Notify relevant parties: Notify law enforcement and other appropriate parties, such as customers or partners.
Remove the breach: Take steps to remove the violation, such as patching vulnerabilities or restoring from backups.
Review and improve security: Review your security measures and procedures to identify any weaknesses that allowed the breach to occur and implement improvements to prevent future breaches.
Communicate with your stakeholders: Keep everyone informed about the situation and the steps you are taking to resolve it.
A good and tested remote work security plan is essential to prevent your company from remote work cybersecurity attacks. It's also a wise idea to have an incident response plan in place before a breach happens; it can be a great help to have a clear plan for incident response and a designated team to handle the incident.