Remote work isn’t new. However, there is no denying how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for this non-traditional work setup. Previously, only 7% of the population had the option to work remotely. This figure exponentially increased at the height of the crisis. In just a few months, around the second quarter of 2020, 17% of the world’s population are working from home. This accounts for over half a billion of the entire workforce.
The last few months have proven the value of remote work to businesses of all scales. Through telework, productivity increased, and overhead costs decreased. Nevertheless, one of the most significant drawbacks to this innovation surrounds the concerts over cybersecurity. The change was abrupt, and most companies that made the transition were not prepared to protect their digital assets amidst remote work.
In this article, we explore the top cyber security risks of remote working and best practices in keeping the equilibrium between telework and protecting your digital assets.
Top Security Risks of Remote Working
Regardless if your company has a fully remote workforce or your operation is transitioning into a hybrid setup, there are cybersecurity risks that come with allowing your employees to produce beyond the confines of your office space. A successful attack on a single remote worker can cost your business plenty of time and resources. Below are the top security risks of remote working that you should prepare for:
- Employees as Easy Targets
The pandemic saw an exponential boom in phishing scams. Most hackers deem employees, or simply people beyond the IT industry, as easy targets that they can latch onto to retrieve sensitive information. In fact, these malicious actors used the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic as a way to trick their targets into willfully surrendering data.
Your employees can be your biggest assets and most prominent threats. In the time of remote work, it is crucial to give them the training that they need to avoid succumbing to malicious attacks.
- Access to Secure Data through Unsafe Networks
Most companies try to provide their employees with a standard-issue laptop as a level of cybersecurity measure. While there is some efficacy to this strategy, most would fail to consider the use of unsafe networks in their security policies. Home WiFis and routers aren’t protected. Unlike in a corporate network, home connections often do not have firewalls to safeguard sensitive data.
- Weak Passwords
There are very few employees who understand the role password strength plays in a company’s cybersecurity policy. Regardless of the number of measures you put in place, it is essential to remember that hackers target human behavior as it is easier to exploit.
Hackers have a variety of tools that allow them to retrieve frequently used passwords and use the information to their advantage. Often, password reuse gives hackers easy access to all other accounts using the same information.
- Working From Unsecured Devices
As mentioned earlier, there is some merit to providing work devices for employees working remotely because you can implement endpoint security strategies. Unfortunately, the reality is, not all companies are able to do so. Using personal devices for work introduces a host of threats to your business’s sensitive data.
For one, most employees do not think to encrypt information that streams in and out of their personal devices. Likewise, using personal electronic devices like printers gives easy access to hackers to exploit the data stored on them.
- Absence of Cybersecurity Support
One of the best things about working from office space is the ability to access support whenever you need it. Most workspaces have a dedicated space for cybersecurity personnel, and employees can pay them a visit if they need help with any security-related concerns.
This support is lacking when it comes to work-from-home setups. While mediated communication is available, the lag time between issue and resolution can be longer than anticipated. Most employees might resort to unsafe resolutions that may cause more harm than good.
Best Practices to Mitigate Security Risks of Remote Working
There is no denying the increase in cybersecurity risks, especially with the popularity of remote working. Knowing the issues is one thing; preparing for them is another. There are plenty of ways to protect your company from cybersecurity threats. Below are just a few simple steps that you can take to ensure that your transition to remote working remains seamless:
- Create a Remote Work and Cloud Cybersecurity Policy
An excellent remote working cybersecurity strategy is hinged on a policy that covers the most pressing issues. Creating a cybersecurity policy for your company allows you and your employees to remain on the same page even if they are away from the office.
The guidelines should be clear and succinct. It should include a rundown of the most common cybersecurity attacks as well as clear, actionable steps for employees to take when onboarding into the remote work program. Likewise, the policy should have a list of key personnel to whom workers can reach out should they have questions or concerns.
- Implement Education, Training, and Awareness Programs
As mentioned earlier, your employees can be your biggest assets. Arming them with cybersecurity knowledge provides your company the first line of defense amidst an attack. Training is necessary because if employees can recognize threats, they won’t succumb to them.
- Take a Proactive Approach
In this day and age, run-of-the-mill cybersecurity solutions are no longer enough to give your company enough protection from malicious threats. A successful attack can cost your operations a lot of wasted time and money. Choosing to work with cybersecurity experts that provide a supplementary level of security is necessary for your peace of mind.
Cybersecurity in the time of remote work can be a demanding area to deal with. Even for seasoned business owners, 2020 introduced a new normal that is challenging to navigate. One of the best things you can do for your cybersecurity efforts is to partner with experts you can trust.