Cybersecurity has always been crucial for companies and individuals as it safeguards all types of data against theft and loss. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, security threats were a major concern. However, the risks have grown significantly since the pandemic. Some research shows that the number of cyber-attacks increased by 500% during the pandemic. This means that this topic is more important than ever, as these attacks cost companies significantly.
The only positive aspect of the surge in cyber-attacks is that there is now increased security awareness and investment in security. Companies are taking a proactive approach to protect their operations from such attacks.
The new model of working, which includes hybrid and remote work, has become a part of everyday life. This model has shown great results in terms of human productivity, prompting many companies to recognize its advantages and allow their employees to continue working remotely. However, the question remains: How do they protect their sensitive data from security attacks? Is remote work safe?
In this blog, we will discuss the security challenges in remote working and explore the security risks associated with it, along with the preventive measures that can be taken.
Security risks in remote working
The cybersecurity risks associated with remote working are manifold, and we will highlight some of them.
Lack of Cybersecurity Awareness
People constitute crucial targets of cyberattacks because human errors are responsible for most attacks. A lack of cybersecurity awareness among employees can pose a significant risk to a company. Individuals in non-technical roles often do not have a habit of staying informed about security. In the absence of cybersecurity awareness among employees, they can inadvertently provide threat actors with access to the company’s private information.
Use of Personal Devices for Work
Utilizing personal devices to connect to corporate networks and systems can introduce substantial security risks, as personal devices lack the same level of cybersecurity as corporate ones. Another potential issue arises when ex-employees, even after resignation, retain company files on their laptops.
Vulnerable Wi-Fi Networks
Since employees have transitioned to remote work, the likelihood of using insecure networks has increased. This is particularly true when they use public Wi-Fi networks, such as those in cafes. When employees use an insecure public network, they risk compromising company data. To mitigate this risk, employees should use a VPN when working remotely.
One of the simplest ways for employees to protect themselves is by strengthening their passwords and ensuring strong password protection on their devices. Attackers are aware that human errors are easy to exploit, so they attempt to crack account passwords and gain access to sensitive corporate information using various software. If employees use the same password for multiple accounts, hackers can easily exploit this and access other accounts, including corporate logins.
Misconfigurations, particularly those related to access, pose a risk. Companies may unintentionally grant users excessive access or fail to implement proper access controls.
Remote employees use cameras daily for meetings. Cybercriminals can illicitly access webcams and violate their privacy. If confidential documents are visible through the camera, the issue becomes even more significant.
Sophisticated Socially Engineered Attacks
The most common form of social engineering is phishing, which involves using emails or text messages designed to deceive victims into disclosing sensitive information and clicking on a malicious website or opening an email attachment containing malware. This attack has become increasingly challenging for employees to detect, especially when phishing emails bypass filters and land in the main inbox.
Public Places Issue
These are the risks employees face when speaking loudly while in public areas, displaying their laptop screens in a coffee shop, or leaving devices unattended.
Prevention measures in remote working
Working from home certainly has many benefits, but it can also expose a range of security risks for individuals and companies. As a result, following best practices can help mitigate the most common cybersecurity threats associated with remote work. Here are the top security tips for ensuring safety while working remotely:
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN): Connect via a VPN to secure your internet connection when working remotely.
Utilize a Password Manager: Ensure your passwords are strong and secure by using a password manager.
Protect Work Devices: Keep other individuals away from your work devices to prevent unauthorized access.
Employ Webcam Covers: Invest in a sliding webcam cover to protect your privacy when not in video meetings.
Secure Home Wi-Fi: Enhance home Wi-Fi security by creating a strong Wi-Fi password, changing the network name, and enabling network encryption.
Beware of Phishing Scams: Stay vigilant and avoid clicking on suspicious links or sharing sensitive information.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Use two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible or consider the use of an authenticator app to enhance login security.
Provide Security Awareness Training: Offer security awareness training to all employees to reduce the security risks associated with remote work.
Keep Software Updated: Maintain up-to-date devices, applications, and software to patch vulnerabilities that attackers may exploit.
By following these guidelines, remote workers can better protect themselves and their organizations from potential security threats while working from home.
Transitioning to remote work presents numerous cybersecurity challenges, all of which can be proactively addressed through the implementation of robust security practices. Safeguarding a business’s reputation demands the adoption of essential security measures to mitigate potential security risks. Consequently, it is crucial to invest more in cybersecurity, including security awareness training for employees.
Ultimately, the path to successful remote work hinges on striking a delicate equilibrium between flexibility and comprehensive cybersecurity measures.